Hong Kong’s ace batsman Anshuman Rath wrapped up the World Cricket League with 678 runs in 10 matches. The opening batsman, who played an instrumental role in his side’s journey to the World Cup Qualifiers, scored two centuries and four fifties in the tournament. Currently, he is in Kathmandu to participate in the TVS Everest Premier League wearing the Biratnagar Warriors jersey. Onlinekhabar caught up with Rath to talk about the tournament and cricket in the Associate world.
Is this your first time here in Nepal?
Well, I have been here before. The first time I was here was in 2010 when I was part of the Hong Kong U-16 team that travelled to Nepal for a tournament. I have always loved this place and the atmosphere here compares only to India. I was ecstatic to the passion in people. I couldn’t be happier playing for Biratnagar.
You were just back home after the long World Cricket League. There are so many tournaments going on around the world and your performance with the HK team has made you a favourite in the Associate world. What was the main reason that made you want to come to play the EPL?
Yes, we came back from the busy WCL schedule. It’s the people more than anything here that made me want to come here. I am not here for the money or the fame. I have always loved playing cricket in Nepal and I understand that playing here in these conditions will also make me a better player.
Have you trained with the team yet?
I just landed this afternoon (Sunday). I know quite a few players in my team from the previous tours. I know Basant dai. I also know Avinash Karn from the youth cricket days. I hope I can gel in well with the team. I am sure that they are very talented.
Hong Kong and Nepal have been long-time rivals at the ACC and the WCL levels. How do you think will the fans react when they see you in the Biratnagar jersey?
I hope they will cheer for us. Well, Hong Kong and Nepal are rivals on the field, but off of it, we are friends who respect each other and the camaraderie between the players is fantastic. I am looking forward to playing before the Nepali crowd.
Hong Kong have already qualified for the World Cup Qualifiers and Nepal are yet to make it there. During the last few years Hong Kong have had relatively more successes at the international arena than Nepal. Is it because you have more domestic tournaments there than here in Nepal?
I think Nepal cricket definitely has the talent and it has the best side in youth cricket. I believe that the ICC should seriously look at cricket in Nepal. It cannot promote associate cricket enough. It’s about the amount of cricket and also the quality of the games.
In my case, I grew up in London and had the opportunity to play there. I got more exposure there than what I would have in Hong Kong. Only exposure will help youngsters play in different conditions, figure their game out by working with different coaches.
The ICC’s approval for this tournament came quite late. Were you also waiting for the clearance before heading to Nepal?
I got a message from Paras on Friday night. He asked me, can you come? Well, I am not doing anything, so sure I will. It comes down to the amount of goodwill, camaraderie and friendship in the Associate world. We have been struggling together, we are part of a close-knit family and get along with everyone.
On another note, the ICC has made some changes to its ODI League format and only the Netherlands will get to play it this time. What is your reaction to this?
Obviously, it is a little frustrating. But, they have their legitimate reasons as the ICC is concerned about the future of the game. The only thing we Associates can do is to perform our best. Nepal U-19 beating India U-19, Afghanistan winning the Asia Cup, Nepal U-19 finishing in the top 10 in the World Cup: these are performances we need. All these things will add up and it is only a matter of time. All signs are very exciting for the Associates, especially Nepal.
You will be playing for Biratnagar. Do you plan to visit the city sometime?
I am open to it. The last time I was here in Nepal, I was too young to appreciate the beauty of this country. Also travelling with the national team is not easy as there are so many security protocols. But now I am here with a franchise, so I am definitely open to travelling. I would also like to visit Biratnagar to see the city I will be playing for.