EDITORIAL: Howz that!

Entry of Nepali leggie, Sandeep Lamichhane, into the IPL, the biggest T20 tournament, is certainly a shot in the arm not only for him but also for Nepali cricket

Nepali cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane on Sunday made it to the glitzy Indian Premier League (IPL), a professional Twenty20 league of India, after Delhi Daredevils (DD) picked the leg spinner during the IPL auction in Bengaluru. This came as a pleasant surprise for the Nepali cricket fraternity as well as all the Nepalis, for this is the first time a Nepali cricketer has managed to make it to the tournament which every year brings the best of cricketing stars and emerging talents together. Seventeen-year-old Lamichhane was picked by DD, owned by the GMR Group, recognising the talent he has demonstrated in the recent past. The Nepali leggie’s entry into the biggest Twenty20 tournament is certainly a shot in the arm not only for him but also for the Nepali cricket. For Nepal, Lamichhane’s selection in the IPL holds a lot of significance.

Nepal currently does not hold ODI or T20I status. Secondly, Nepal’s cricket governing body — Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) — currently remains suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the cricket governing body of the world. This emerging talent’s selection can hence be a watershed moment for Nepali cricket, as his IPL success could shift focus of IPL franchises’ on Nepali cricketers, opening the gates for them to the tournament in future. The espncricinfo.com rightly noted that Nepali skipper Paras Khadka and vice-captain Gyanendra Malla hold all the talent to go under the hammer during future IPL bids, as they are “the most dynamic batsmen in all of Associate cricket”.

The way Twitter went aflutter after Lamichhane made his entry into the IPL shows Nepali people’s love for the sport. Sport is one activity that has always kept the Nepalis united. Congratulations came pouring in for the teenager. Even the prime minister sent a tweet congratulating the leg spinner’s entry into the tournament that has the largest viewership across the globe. Amid celebrations there, however, are some points to ponder. Despite the country having the potential to produce cricketing talents like Lamichhane, not much has been done by the state to let them flourish. Nepal’s cricket governing body has been mired in politics. Sporting activities hardly become the government’s priority. In the annual budget of 2017-18, Rs 2.24 billion was allocated for sports — a paltry sum hardly enough for administrative works. Domestic tournaments are few and far between. There is a lot that the government can do to promote cricket and nurture new talents. The private sector also can pitch in with title sponsorship and other support for more domestic games. But for now, Lamichhane is set to rub shoulders with the likes of Gautam Gambhir of India, Glenn Maxwell of Australia and Trent Boult of New Zealand, to name a few. And then he is going to have a wonderful opportunity to be coached by former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, whose successor Michael Clarke once took Lamichhane under his wing. The former Australian skipper had provided Lamichhane with an opportunity to train at the Michael Clarke Academy. The Nepali leg spinner hence no doubt has created a history. He has so far pitched his balls at good length. Three cheers for Lamichhane!

Leprosy cases rising

The country has recently seen a sharp rise in the number of leprosy cases. Is has become a challenging task for the government to eradicate the chronic disease by 2020. A report said as many as 3,000 new cases of leprosy were found across the country in 2017. The number of leprosy cases has been rising for the past two years. There were 5,922 leprosy patients in the fiscal 2016/17. Lack of awareness, poor personal hygiene and sanitation and low economic status of people are to blame for the rising number of leprosy patients.

The WHO stresses the need to boost active case-finding, strengthen surveillance, contact-tracking and focus more on early detection of leprosy cases among children. The government, with support from the WHO, has set 2020 a target to bring the number of children suffering from leprosy to zero. In order to control the number of children suffering from the disease, programme must be focused on schools and community. It should be integrated with other health programmes launched at health centres. Health experts say its early detection and treatment can avert disability and deformity.