Nepal´s national cricket team captain Paras Khadka is all set to play for a Canadian cricket club. He received invitation from Ontario Cricket Club and Academy to play for it for four months. If everything goes well, he will leave Kathmandu before the second week of May.
Armed Police Force (APF), the team he plays for, and Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) have already given a clearance to Khadka to play in Canada.
Khadka and Shakti Gauchan came into limelight for helping Nepal finish 7th in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers. Skipper Khadka had scored a total of 254 runs and taken seven wickets. Gauchan took 16 wickets to finish as the third top wicket taker in the championship. Gauchan was called for trials at the Indian Premier League (IPL) by Rajasthan Royals.
Ontario Club contracts players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka every year. Republica´s Nabin Khatiwada talked to Khadka on Wednesday about the invitation from the Canadian Club. Excerpts:
How did this opportunity come your way?
It was all possible because of the initiation taken by our coach. It was all through him. After the completion of the ICC World T20 Qualifiers, the coach had asked me whether I would be interested to play in Canada. I said yes, and he contacted Ontario. He has also been trying to find other foreign clubs that would be interested to take in our players.
How much do you know about Canadian cricket?
Canada is an ODI nation. As far as I know, Canadian Cricket League is the biggest cricket league in all of North America. Clubs there hire cricketers from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It will be a very good exposure for me and I hope to learn many things from Canada.
What are the expectations from your side, and what will Ontario Club expect from you?
Playing against different opponents and playing on different conditions will off course benefit cricketers. It would help to develop mental toughness. And, I´m excited.
Players from Hong Kong and Afghanistan play for different foreign teams and their national team is doing well. If I play in Canada, it will help not just me but also our team.
As for their expectation, I will try to perform well and impress them. I want the Canadians to appreciate the caliber of Nepali players. If I can do that, it will open the doors of opportunities for other Nepali players.
Have you been informed about the financial aspects of the contract?
The invitation from the club itself is an opportunity and I´m less concerned about financial benefits. For Nepali cricketers, exposure is the major concern. The club is bearing all charges related to accommodation and airfare. I am less concerned about other financial benefits.
Who else, among the current crop of players, could be called by a foreign club?
KHADKA: If we pick the best 20 Nepali cricketers, at least 15 to 16 players are capable of competing at the County level. All my teammates are talented and capable of playing from a foreign club but we lack opportunities.
In Nepal we don´t have cricket season in June and July. We play ACC Trophy in October and then the World Cricket League Division 4. Young members of the team will get exposure from the upcoming Asian U-19 Cup and ICC U-19 World Cup.
Meanwhile, if senior players of the Nepali team play for the foreign clubs, they will be better prepared to play against international teams. Coach is seeking opportunity for other players as well.
Don´t you think what the coach is doing should be done by Cricket Association of Nepal?
You need contacts to take such initiatives. Our coach can do it better because he has contacts. Also, coach himself is a part of CAN. The CAN has been supporting both the coach and players in such initiatives. It bore Shakti dai (Gauchan)´s airfare during his visit to India. It has been helpful in preparing my documents for visa process.
Nonetheless, it would have been better if CAN had developed its own contacts for such opportunities.