When big Associate and Full member International stars like Kyle Coetzer, Richard Levi, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Rohan Mustafa, Babar Hayat, Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien and Mohammed Naveed play in a T20 league anywhere across the globe, there is a hint of interest generated in the global media with regards to the organisation of such an event.
Nepal’s T20 franchise based league, Everest Premier League (EPL T20) got the attention of the world by bringing in some big names and English County cricket specialists, which bore well for the awareness about the tournament. That Nepal in fact hosts three such franchise based leagues is not known worldwide.
The tournament commenced from 8th Dec 2018 and went until 22nd Dec 2018. Total of 19 matches including the finals/play-off and 15 league matches were played across 15 days at Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground in Kirtipur, Kathmandu.
Lalitpur Patriots, Kathmandu Kings XI, Bhairahawa Gladiators and Chitwan Tigers advanced through to the play-off’s from the group stage of the tournament. Patriots reached the final first while Kathmandu Kings XI played Bhairahawa Gladiators in the 2nd qualifier after losing in the first, after the latter defeated Chitwan Tigers in the Eliminator match.
Lalitpur Patriots triumphed in the final over Bhairahawa Gladiators to win the 3rd edition of the T20 league. Recruitment of foreign commentators in Andrew Leonard (Ireland) & Frances Mackay (New Zealand) added bit of colour as is very important aspect of modern day broadcasting of T20 leagues, the colour commentary team personnel’s.
Live broadcasting on AP 1 was better than the previous year but lots of improvement is still required on that front. With time, hopefully, it will improve for the better. Online streaming on Nepalflix was a good initiative and it provided the option for viewers outside Nepal to get access to video content; however, again the quality of the stream needs improvement.
Now, for the main part. Being a T20 league to showcase the talent of domestic talent in Nepal, one would have expected some good performances from them. They were there in bits and pieces and most of them belonged to the Nepali domestic bowlers, while the batters disappointed a lot. Only two Nepal batsmen managed to score above 200+ runs in the entire tournament and only three featured in the Top 10 run-scorers list at the end of the tournament. It is not going in the right direction at all and with foreign professionals dominating in the same games while the domestic talent failed to do so doesn’t show a good picture in itself.
Guys like Yogendra Singh Airee, Avinash Bohara, Sundeep Zora, Kushal Malla and Sandeep Rajaili have potential but needs bit more than just T20 leagues to nurture their talent and make them ready to represent the country in International cricket.
There were negative aspects in terms of umpiring and pitch conditions and player behaviour, that also brought about some talking points during the course of the event. A major highlight was the retirement of Nepal’s talisman for the past 19 years, Shakti Gauchan, as he played his last group match for his team Pokhara Rhinos against Chitwan Tigers, as the team failed to qualify for the play-off stages.
In all, Nepal audiences were treated for some good action by the overseas professionals but they would expect to see more from their own talent the next time the EPL T20 comes back to thrill the cricket crazy nation.