Sandeep Lamichhane has been turning up for the Sylhet Sixers in the ongoing edition of Bangladesh Premier League.
In an exclusive chat with Cricbuzz, the young spinner opened up about his beginnings, leg-spin, leagues around the world and everything Nepal.
Two years ago, you said that playing in the BBL would be a dream come true. How do you look back at it?
Sandeep: Until I went to Australia, I had only played in Asian and English conditions. What remained was playing in Australia. There was only one way that I could have played there and that was the Big Bash. I wanted to make my parents proud, everyone in Nepal proud, myself proud. I once dreamed it and now I’m living it.
Do you think playing in the Big Bash made you more compact?
Yes, exactly. Playing in different leagues helps you grow as a cricketer. Playing in Australia is different than playing in any other country. You have to be very careful regarding the wickets. The batsmen will try to hit a six off each of your delivery. And in Asian conditions, it’s much more comfortable for the bowler because the ball turns. In Australia, you don’t get that advantage.
What prompted you to leave BBL for BPL?
There was a commitment regarding Big Bash and BPL. And I got signed by BPL 10-11 months ago. I informed Big Bash about the policy of BPL… that I’ve been signed in BPL and so I’m only free from this date to that date. And that if you guys want me to be there, I will come and play for you guys in that duration. It was like a commitment I made to the BPL and their Sylhet Sixers chief executive Yasir Obaid played a big part in it. My ethics say that whoever comes forward in your low moment, just go with them. So, I forgot about BBL and came to play in BPL.
How did you become a legspinner?
I played alongside my brothers, my friends and people around the streets in my hometown. I used to bowl medium pace and offspin then. In a word, I used to bowl everything – just name it. But sometimes it was really hard to get them out. Then I started thinking about how to bowl them and how to beat them. I started with legspin and saw everyone struggling; I could beat them easily. That’s how it started.
Did you follow any bowler when you started bowling legspin?
When I first started with legspin, I did not follow anyone because we did not have a TV in our house. I used to listen to all the available commentary on the radio. Then after I had a TV in the house, I followed Shane Warne. Gradually, I saw the videos of Shane Warne on YouTube and learning became more accessible.
Michael Clarke asked you to join him at his club team in Australia after having played in the Hong Kong T20 blitz with you. What impact has he had on your career?
Yes, he has been a big influence on me because the boy from Nepal who had nothing is now representing his country and making it proud. He called me up to Sydney and I played for his club over there. A guy from Nepal getting those opportunities for free and all these sponsors endorsing me — all these were done by Michael Clarke. To get the chance to play in Australia is a big achievement because it was my dream to go there and play. It was great.
What was it like when you received that letter?
It was quite good but also shocking. I was like, seriously? Is it true? That I’ve got called up by Michael Clarke? But he had been giving me some kind of hint while playing at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. We used to talk to each other a lot. Finally when I got the news, I was really happy and excited.
You played three matches in the IPL last time around. How was your experience in the then Delhi Daredevils camp?
Yes, very fortunate to be over there because of the lovely people all around. It was a great tournament. Never played any T20 tournament [of that stature] before that, never played in single T20 match before that. It was a proud moment for me, for Nepal. It was like a guy from Nepal making his country proud, going outside and playing on the big stage like IPL. And I got my chance in the last three games and performed well over there. It was tremendous.
They, now Delhi Capitals, retained you for the upcoming edition…
We are a good side now. We will try to rework on all the mistakes we have done last year and give our team a reason to smile.
How was your interaction with Ricky Ponting in the Delhi camp?
I spoke to him over a lot of things during the IPL. I’m the kind of guy who wants to learn everyday. Who wants to ask questions. I wanted to know about all the cricketing knowledge because if you are getting a lot of it from different people, you get the best out of yourself.
Did you gather any knowledge from Imran Tahir, who is currently in the Sixers squad?
Yes, a great guy and very humble. He is my teammate right now. We like it whenever we are practising or fielding. We like to speak to each other and share information.
In this modern era, wrist spinners are coming off in a big way. What do you think is the reason behind it?
I don’t know the particular reason behind it. The longer you want to dominate the batsman, the longer you want to bowl in the right areas. I don’t think anybody can hit you from there. Legspin is something with which you can deceive the batsman if he is not able to pick your variations. So that might be the reason for legspinners getting a lot of confidence in T20 cricket of late.
What do you think is your main component: is it the pace or the variations that you have?
I’ll go with both. My pace, probably at this point of time, because previously I used to bowl a bit slower but like two years back, I started to bowl quicker before adding lot of variations to my bowling. So I think I’ll go with both pace and variations.
Do you believe Rashid Khan brought a new dimension in legspin bowling? Because when you see your idol, Shane Warne, he was not so quick. He was a different type of bowler.
Yes. He [Rashid] has definitely had an impact on the current generation. I think it depends on the generation because cricket in 2003 was different to cricket in 2019. Because there were very few batsmen who played the sweep shot. So you could bowl around the batsman’s leg. Everyone sweeps these days and you have to be very careful and mix it up with a bit of pace. It’s a great challenge. But I think Rashid Khan brought a big change in the legspin era. And yes, lot of young stars are following him. So he should be proud of himself.
How are you enjoying your stardom in Nepal?
Yes, people in Nepal are very lovely. For instance, here in Bangladesh, there are lots of police out there but that isn’t the case back home. You are still the same old guy in the neighbourhood and with your friends. There is a big difference nowadays though, yes. Earlier, when I went to the capital, I could walk freely; I can’t these days. You cannot give your time to everyone because you have your personal life as well. But whenever I go to Nepal, I try to share my time with everyone so that I don’t make anyone sad.
How do you see Nepal’s future as a cricket nation?
Good question. Four years back – I will start again from there – we played the 2014 World T20 here in Bangladesh. After that, Nepal cricket sort of disappeared. There are lot a of things. I don’t know what happened and why we don’t even have our cricket board right now. Ever since I made my debut, it has been suspended by the ICC. I still don’t know why it happened. Hopefully everything will be sorted very soon. If we get good domestic structures, we will be able to compete.
If there is no cricket board, then young players must not be coming, right? They don’t have the initiatives to groom younger players…
We have got some different leagues in the corporate sector. They are helping us to grow our cricket. Because we have got several groups of leagues, like BPL, EPL.
But you need a cricket board to run everything…
Yes, exactly. It makes it that little bit easier to stick to your cricket basics. But these days, being a player you have to worry about your cricket board, you have to worry about your team, you have to worry about your nation. And then you have to worry about being yourself.
Do you regret leaving a singing career as you are quite popular singer in your hometown?
No, I don’t so. I think about it sometimes but not much because it’s my hobby.