National team former captain and Nepali cricket’s face Paras Khadka stunned everyone with a sudden retirement on Tuesday morning. The 33-year old leaves behind a legacy not only as a cricketer but a decorated sportsperson of the country with whom the game grew.
He has been out of action in international cricket since 2020 ACC Asia Cup Twenty20 Eastern Region Qualifier in Thailand. Paras leaves as the country’s only cricketer to strike century in both the Twenty20 and One Day Internationals. He retires after making appearance in 33 Twenty20 Internationals and 10 ODIs.
Paras, who helped Nepal earn ODI status in 2018 as a captain, spoke to Adarsha Dhakal about his abrupt decision. In this interview, Paras talks about his future pans, current national team and his own decision. EXCERPTS:
You still have a lot of cricket left in you, don’t you think that its too early to retire ?
Its about not my own cricket pathway. Its not about whether it is too early or not. It is about what next. I don’t want to stereotype the things and move forward without fetching any result. Few years later, we come to a point and play at a different level. But for that I need to have time and think over.
I have always looked upon what can be achieved and have come this long way. But I want to put my thoughts and influence to work further in the development of cricket. May be this decision will help us to have a proper cricketing system in the next four to five years.
We are in a very crucial juncture in world cricket. We are in League 2 which will determine our future for the next few years. Don’t you think as a senior player, you have deceived Nepali cricket?
It comes down to how much can you do. I felt this is the best you can do as a cricketer for your country. I thought that I cannot cheat myself by just clinging on to a spot in the team. My full time commitment was for cricket, I did what I could have done.
Now, I don’t see that determination any more in myself. There is no determination to go on a cricket field and push myself. What I can do now is I can advise what we can do or not. The players these days are very talented and they have to be brought together and there is now at least two years for this team to gradually get into a shape. There were so much of hard work to bring our cricket here, I want the current team to carry that over.
I will try to bring that determination off the field now. If I have inspired people on the field, I would like to do that off the field now.
Is your decision influenced by the frustration of how the cricket administration has been working off late ?
This frustration against the system has forever etched on us ever since we started playing cricket so its nothing related to that. This in fact is a golden period for us. We have always fought what is right for the players.
More than my frustration, its about the impact that I can make not being a cricketer. I have learnt cricket through TV and went on to play the World Cup for the country. There has been a lot of hard work involved in it. I see this situation as a bigger pathway for me. Its a phase of a challenge that I need to take up seriously.
Has not your decision taken away a voice from within the team ?
It doesn’t necessarily mean that my voice is always right. I have always remained honest. The voice now has to come from themselves. If even I am wrong, they have to be able to come and point fingers on me. Cricket team’s voice is its performance, that is how we came here and our voices were heard.
You have always talked about being the part of the system. What role do you think you can play ?
At a personal level, I am thinking of starting an academy. I have already been working on this plan. This would be an academy that will run across the country. I have always wanted to be part of the system but I cannot do everything alone. I am just hopeful, I can influence right people around me. There are lot of things to be done. I want to use my cricketing knowledge, experience and link for Nepali cricket for a larger benefit.
But I also know that the job is equally challenging off the field as it is a completely different avenue for me. But I have always taken up any challenge in my life and will do the same with this. But more than challenge, its a responsibility.
The most important thing that we need to understand is that all of us (stakeholders) need to be on the same page. We have to make a plan on a paper and we have to make all of the structures in centre, province and districts equally responsible. We have to make programmes.
The focus should be on making national teams — men’s, women’s and U-19 — more efficient so that they sustain at the higher level. We need to have a proper corporate set up that will bring district, college or school together. For that all the stakeholders have to be together and we can lead somewhere.
How can you do that without being captain or a cricketer representing Nepal ?
I want to start my own academy and produce cricketers. Interally, I am involved with Pokhara Premier League that also organises Women’s Champions League. There is Baliyo Nepal foundation that has already started by organising school cricket. In near future, these organisations will tie up with district or province to work on the development of grassroots, women’s and youth cricket.
Its been said that politics these days are not only done by CAN but also the players. How do you relate it to the current set of players ?
The most important thing is players know whats right or wrong. Individually, we know who is the best person for Nepali cricket. The biggest challenge for the national team is to decide rationally on how cricketers can play a role to take Nepali team ahead.
The cricketers need to learn that if Nepal doesn’t win in coming days, their entire existence will have no siginificance be it former or current players. More than politics, its about managing the best from what we have. Cricket team has to stay independent, honest and remain selfless.
What can people expect from national team without Paras ?
Just take a look at the way we played in the last series. We were just exceptional. I hope we continue to play that brand of cricket. I was unfortunate to miss it. The game has to go on and now its up to the current batch of cricketers where they can lead Nepali cricket to.
What have you enjoyed the most ? Speaking as a leader or being a cricket ?
The best that I have enjoyed is staying in the camp with fellow cricketers, celebration after victories. It was not about trying to win trophies but making contributions. The players that I have played with have always been phenomenal. These are the memories that I will always cherish for the rest of my life.