It’s not often that one gets to preview a domestic tournament in Nepal for there aren’t much happening in the recent past. It’s even rarer to actually be excited about a domestic tournament. But like a popular Asian proverb which roughly translates to “When god gives to needy, he gives in plenty”, here we are on a verge of witnessing the most glamorous Nepali domestic tournament ever. In spite of a complex triangle of trobuled past, delicate present and a future which could range from shambolic to glorious, Nepali cricket for next few days will just be about bat and balls, runs and wickets in the ground and not ultimatums and elections, threats and boycotts in some closed rooms.
The Big Picture
The picture is actually big. It should be big to even survive. Ever since the organizers Zohra Sports Management first came up with the idea of launching a franchise-based cricket system in Nepal, it has recieved claps and chaos in equal proportion. After the controversy-marred 50 overs edition couple of years ago, it needed someone lion-hearted to even make this tournament possible. In the form of Amir Akhtar, thankfully for the sake of cricket, Nepal had one.
It would not be an exaggeration to say had it not been for him, things might not have worked out. Ncell NPL became WaiWai EPL, 50 overs and multi-days are scrapped, auctions and international players likely in next edition – things have surely changed from its initial thought. What begun as a multi-format cricket initiative could soon turn into a vibrant T20 league with unimaginable growth potential. Given the cricket economy and what Nepali cricket actually stands for to the world, this transformation could actually prove to be a good one.
What can we expect ?
First thing first, for next 10 days, expect some breath-taking cricket action and nothing else. Handsome match fees, free entry to grounds, live telecast in national television, Nepali domestic cricket had never been so rich. Six evenly balanced team fighting out neck and neck with everything at stake for all – this 10 days could actually make or break careers of plenty. One dazzling knock or a brilliant spell here could suddenly make an unknown player a national darling.
Looking slightly beyond the 10 days blockbuster, EPL will enter into a phase of searching destiny for itself. A little bit of proper management, a little bit of vision and few people who can dare to think big, EPL has everything in it to be the premier domestic tournament outside Test Nations. If there is any nation who can bring about an “associates IPL” it is Nepal and it is EPL.
EPL will feature players of all sorts. From Sanjam Regmi to Sushil Kandel, from Mehboob Alam to Siddhant Lohani, there are players of every sorts trying their best this EPL. Alam, Regmi and players like Manjeet Shrestha, Paresh Lohni, Deepesh Khatri who are arguably not as good as they once used to be represent a dimension – a crop of players who perhaps few things to prove more than gaining anything. A solid performance could bring new ray of light to their career while a dismal show would almost certainly mean curtains.
Then there are those second lot – the present ones, the loved ones and perhaps the secured ones. The cricket circle has been abuzz recently with murmurs that these groups of players have started taking few things for granted and are just surviving because of past performances. And once again, much is on stake for them.
Next dimension include the next on line – new ones, younger ones, rejected ones, hated ones. It would be quite apt to say these group of players are the ones who need EPL the most. Will it be Susan Bhari or Sushil Kandel to replace Gauchan once he retires? Do the likes of Bhuwan Karki and Rahul VK have any chances? Will Siddhant Lohani break some glass bottles in press box and then glass ceilings in Nepali cricket? Only time will tell.
After the previously held NPL, each team made a certain reputation about themselves and with not many significant changes they will carry those reputations. Tez have allrounders, Legends and Rhinos have balance, Warriors have Paras Khadka, Gurkhas have Basant Regmi and his boys, X-Factors actually have a x-factor in Siddhant Lohani. As it often the case, teams with balance are likely to do well in this tournament.
Panchakanya Tez vs Sagarmatha Legends in the final.