Gyanendra Malla and Sharad Vesawkar were a part of the golden age of Nepali cricket that began in 2011. As of late, Malla, known as a technically sound batsman and Vesawkar, considered The Finisher by the audience, have not been able to show their performance representing the national team.
Since February and March, Vesawkar and Malla respectively have not played for the national team. The Nepali cricket team have already played four series without these two senior players. Currently, the Nepali team are entirely dependent upon their young players.
So, what does this mean?
Age of young players
Vesawkar was removed from the Nepali cricket team due to continuous injury and weak performance. Malla does not have an injury problem. These two cricketers have not resigned from the team officially. But, they have remained out of the national team.
Does it mean the end of their cricketing career?
“The national team haven’t closed the doors for any of its senior players. There is always an avenue for the players who can prove themselves,” says Dipendra Chaudhary, the chief selector of the national team.
But, currently, the team management is giving an opportunity to new players. Anyone who performs well can get into the team, he adds.
At present, the Nepali cricketers are in Canada preparing for ICC Cricket World Cup League two to play against Scotland and Namibia in the tri-nation series. Nepal are playing one practice and two ODI matches against Canada. Afterwards, the team will vie against Scotland.
The Nepali national team led by 21-year-old leg spinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, mostly include young players. Coach Pubudu Dassanayake since his appointment in December last year has been giving priority to young players.
Hence, it is tough for the senior players to get included in the Nepali cricket team. Wicketkeeper Binod Bhandari is the only senior player among the 14 members touring Canada. He made his national debut in 2009 during the ACC T20 tournament.
Lately, the presence of Vesawkar in the Nepali cricket team is rare.
After performing in the Everest Premier League of 2021, he made a comeback to the national team. Vesawkar was confident about his form before going to Oman to play. But, he could not play in World Cup qualifiers due to his injury.
While Vesawkar remained distant from the team due to his injury and weak performance, Malla went through some different situations.
Malla was removed from the captaincy by the Cricket Association of Nepal after he spoke against the governing body over the central contract of the cricketers and the facilities provided to them.
Yet, after that, he played T-20 World Cup qualifiers in Oman and League two in UAE, under the captainship of Lamichhane. But, then, he has not been selected for the Nepali cricket team. Many believe that it is due to his confrontation with CAN.
Since last March after playing against the UAE, Nepali cricketers have played three unofficial and two official series. However, Malla has not been able to return to the team. After League Two, CAN removed Malla and Binod Bhandari from the team and announced a team with young players.
At that time, the chief selector of the national team had said, “The veteran players are given respite, and once they start doing well, they can rejoin the team.”
This very strategy by the chief selector was implemented for Bhandari and he is in the team. However, things turned different for Malla.
The last time Malla played for Nepal was during League Two in the UAE against the host country. In that match, he scored 30 runs. In the last match of the same series against Papua New Guinea, Malla was on the bench.
According to selector Chaudhary, Malla is still a very significant player in the Nepali cricket team. Likewise, the team management has already talked with Vesawkar and Basanta Regmi. However, for the selection of the team, one has to be at the camp for training.
According to the team management, lately, the injured Vesawkar is busy with family affairs. CAN even tried to reach out to Regmi and Prithu Baskota. But, both of them are currently in the United States.
Last time, Vesawkar played for Nepal on February 14 against Ireland in the four-nation T20 series in Oman. Since September 2021, he is not in the team.
“One must go to the camp for selection in the national team. Those who do not show up are not eligible for selection. However, all the senior players are welcome in the team,” says Chaudhary.
Malla, meanwhile, has started providing training at a cricket academy jointly established by himself, Paras Khadka and other players. These days, he is busy teaching others rather than his own training.
Dev Khanal, the captain of the under-19 Nepali cricket team, has substituted Malla’s position and is performing well. The one who performs well in that position is included in the team, says Chaudhary.
All-rounder Aadil Ansari, who joined the senior team together with Khanal from under-19, has already proved himself. Likewise, another young all-rounder Wasir Ahmed is also included in the Nepali cricket team and has gone on the Canada tour.
“Except for a few positions, there are alternative players,” says Chaudhary.
Until recently, Malla had a record to score the highest run for the national team. But, Rohit Kumar Paudel and Dipendra Singh Airee have beaten Malla’s record during his absence.
Paudel has scored a total of 747 runs in ODI that include one century and five half-centuries. Malla, on the other hand, has scored 480 runs in 19 matches. Aarif Sheikh, Aashif Sheikh, Kushal Bhurtel and Dipendra Singh Airee are also close to Malla.
Airee has scored 1,033 runs in T20 internationals. In 39 matches, he scored one century and four half-centuries.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.