How Ponting, Clarke helped teen's IPL first
The story of Sandeep Lamichhane, who has become the first player from Nepal to earn an IPL contract
29 January 2018, 01:20 PM AEST
Amid the flurry of millions at the Indian Premier League auction across the weekend, the signing of a teenage leg-spinner for the relatively measly sum of A$40,000 could be among the most significant purchases of all.
Sandeep Lamichhane, 17, became the first ever player from the developing cricket nation of Nepal to earn an IPL contract when he was bought by Ricky Ponting's Delhi Daredevils on Sunday.
In addition to getting Ponting's tick of approval, Lamichhane has a strong Australian connection; having played with former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke in Hong Kong in 2016, he joined his mentor in Sydney grade cricket later that year and declared "my dream is to play Big Bash".
That dream will have to wait for now, but Delhi's long pursuit of the teenager has given him a chance to play alongside the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Kagiso Rabada and Gautam Gambhir in the world's biggest T20 tournament this year.
"We have scouts who follow just the (ICC) associate teams," Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua told the Indian Express, explaining that Lamichhane first came onto the radar of his franchise in 2016.
"We were tracking him ... so we called him for a specific trial, just him. He just bowled in the nets and we saw him. We wanted to keep it a little hush hush, because there are very few good (young) spinners around. We got his videos and shared that with the team.
"Everybody liked him. Ponting saw his bowling and gave his approval."
And when the news of Lamichhane's signing broke on Sunday, Clarke - Ponting's successor as Australian captain - give his tick of approval.
To the people of Nepal, you should be very proud of @IamSandeep25 he is little champion who wants to do his country proud. Cheer him on and enjoy the journey with him. God bless 🙏👍🏏— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) January 28, 2018
Below is a story first published in September 2016, when Lamichhane played alongside Clarke in a grade match in Sydney
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24 September 2016
Sam Ferris, at Allan Border Oval, Sydney
Michael Clarke’s comeback in Sydney club cricket may have stolen the headlines on Saturday, but a 16-year-old leg-spinner from Nepal gained plenty of attention as well.
Scorecard: All the details from Clarke's comeback
Sandeep Lamichhane only landed in Australia on Monday, flown over by Clarke after the former Australia captain spotted him in Hong Kong during a T20 tournament in May.
The youngster, who turned 16 last week, impressed in his Sydney Premier Cricket debut at Mosman’s Allan Border Oval on Saturday, claiming 1-17 from eight tidy overs for Western Suburbs.
Lamichhane is a star for Nepal’s Under-19 side, but he’s already made it known what his No.1 priority is.
Quick Single: Clarke stranded on 99no in comeback
"My dream is to play Big Bash," Lamichhane said.
After the way the leggie bowled today, a KFC Big Bash League contract might not be as far away as he thinks.
"I think he assessed conditions quite early in his first two overs, changed his pace and bowled his variations when he needed to," Clarke said.
"I think that mind, he’s got cricketing experience that he’s unaware of at the moment.
"I think that’s going to be his greatest strength. To be able to bowl out of the back of the hand is one thing, but to know what you’re doing is another."
While Clarke dismissed the notion of Lamichhane being the 'Nepalese Shane Warne' he said it was more his passion than his prowess that caught his eye.
And that’s easy to understand given the way Lamichhane describes his love of the game.
"You can see it’s like oxygen to me, because without cricket I can’t live," Lamichhane said.
"Sandeep has a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about it, but I think he offers a hell of a lot more than that, and I think that’s why I’ve done whatever I could to try and get him to Sydney,” Clarke said.
"He’s a lovely young man. He’s extremely respectful of his fans and the people that support him.
"He’s very close to his family and I think he fits in perfectly at this great club at Western Suburbs.
"I think today was a little glimpse of what's to come. I don’t want to put any pressure on him (but) he loves the game as much as anyone I’ve seen and that’s what I think is important.
"Let him play, let him enjoy his cricket. He’s around good people here at Western Suburbs. The future will take care of itself."