Wai Wai Everest Premier League is right around the corner and every Nepali cricket fan is eagerly waiting for it. What exactly is EPL ? Why is it a must-watch for every fan? How is it going to shape the cricket future in our country? Here are 7 most significant things that you ought to know about the tournament :
1. Handsome match-fees even for regional players : Around 5.4 million rupees is allocated just as match fees for the entire Wai Wai EPL. Apart from that, lodging, food, and local transportation shall be taken care f by the organizer. Captains from all six teams will get 20,000` per match as fees.,15,000 to the National players who played minimum 15 international matches for Nepal, 12,000 for u19 world cup players, 12,000 per match for players below 15 matches and 8,000 per match to regional cricketers.
This is easily the highest match fees being paid in Nepali Cricket. The most significent part of all these arrangement a regional uncapped player featuring in EPL will earn a minimum of 40000 in a span of 10 days, something that can be seen as a huge progress from previous edition where match fees were close to being nominal – 2000 for captains and 1500 for every other player.
2. Moving from 50 overs to T20 : In previous season the squad of each team were made for the One Day format, now it would be interesting to see how the players adopt to new format. When WicketNepal raised the question in the press meet, Vishal Warriors and Nepal National Team captain Paras Khadka said : ” There are a few changes and adjustments in every squad. We sat last week to fix small loopholes in each team so as to have each team competitive”.
3. Organizers : After Ncell pulled out from sponsorship, CG took an initiative to support Zohra Sports Management as a sponsor for this edition of EPL. A partnership between Nirvana Chaudhary and Amir Akhtar is the strong base behind EPL. Aamir Akhtar represented Nepal in the very first 1999 Youth World Cup as has featured in the Senior National Team as well, He has also played in the minor leagues of England. He was a left arm opening pace bowler and a useful left handed middle order batsman. He played for British Universities Sports Association leagues and he was also the Captain of University of Luton cricket team (England).
4. Why EPL and not NPL ? : Both the NPL and current edition of EPL is organized by Zohra Sports Management and therefore Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has no direct involvement in its operation. When its inaugural season was held in 2014, there were concerns raised by CAN officials over the use of word “Nepal” as it argued it could only be used with official CAN arrangements.
In a rather bizarre move, it didn’t even allow its affiliated umpires to officiate in the NPL matches and asked for explanations to few who did it. After a series of negotiations which cut no deal, initially proposed T20 and multi-day tournaments were postponed. The official sponsors of NPL, Ncell, pulled out of their sponsorship. CAN received international support in its argument and could even think of an disapproval for the tournament in worse case scenario. With much deliberation and arguments, we have reached to the current situation of WaiWai NPL
5. Fan-base and rivalry : All the captains from the previous editions are retained. Though the entire squad is yet to be announced, it is very likely that the core of the players will play for the same team as the last time. It can be seen as an important step as it helps keep the fan base and rivalry going – something which every successful league in the world take a pride on.
6. A short visit into the past : The first edition i.e. the 50 over NPL version was held in Fapla Ground, Dhangadhi and Covered Hall Ground in Mahendranagar. Panchakanya Tej, led by Shard Vesawkar, defeated Jagadamba Giants by 97 runs in the final to clinch the tile. Veteran leg-spinner Raj Kumar Pradhan was the star-performer for the victors, taking a six wicket haul in the final and 14 wickets in the entire tournament.
Pradhan, his team mate Bhuban Karki and Shuvankar Sanyasi of Jagadamba Giants, the only overseas player among all teams , were the joint highest wicket takers of the tournament while Pradeep Airee of Kantipur Gurkhas was the highest run scorer with 212 runs to his name.
In what can be taken as a highlight of the tournament, Susan Bhari of Vishal Warriors took a hat-trick against Kantipur Gurkhas. The run-scoring emerged a a difficult task as it is evident from the fact that no batsman scored a century in the entire tournament with Binod Bhandari’s 98 being the top individual score of the tournament.
7. Future of EPL : Amir Akhtar, the chairman of Zohra Sports Management, stated that the EPL will now be held every year in T20 format only. He further said that a competitive bidding will be held next year which will determine the squads. He plans to extend the league to 8 teams to future. So basically what can be said is that what started as a multi-format cricket initiative will now move more towards a vibrant T20 league which can accommodate ambitions of all sorts.