Sandeep Lamichhane expected to play in Hundred despite losing out on Worcestershire Blast deal
Delays in visa process for Nepal legspinner led to Blast contract being cancelled
Sandeep Lamichhane, the globetrotting Nepal legspinner, is expected to fulfil his contract to play for Oval Invincibles in the inaugural season of the Hundred despite visa delays causing Worcestershire to cancel his deal to represent them in the Vitality T20 Blast.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Lamichhane's visa for the UK has now been approved, but administrative issues caused in part by a Covid-related backlog and by delays in his application meant that if he had flown to the UK immediately after receiving it, he would still have missed the first half of the Blast's group stages.
Worcestershire announced on Saturday evening that they had signed Ish Sodhi, the New Zealand legspinner, as a replacement, who was due to travel to the UK on Sunday. He will be their second overseas player for the Blast alongside Ben Dwarshuis, the Australian left-arm seamer who was part of the Sydney Sixers side that won back-to-back Big Bash titles.
Lamichhane was among the beneficiaries of changes made to the ECB's minimum requirements for a governing body endorsement (GBE) for a visa to play domestic cricket in the UK as an overseas players ahead of the 2020 season.
Previously, a player needed to have represented an ICC Full-Member nation in at least one Test or at least 15 limited-overs internationals in the past 24 months to qualify for a GBE, but in order to ensure freelance T20 players like Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn could appear in the Hundred, the ECB lobbied the Home Office to change the timeframe to 36 months and add a stipulation that players of any nationality who had appeared in at least 20 'List A' T20 matches in Full-Member countries in the past 36 months would be eligible. As a regular in the IPL, BBL and CPL, Lamichhane met that criterion.
Lamichhane and his agent have been in contact with the ECB regarding possible travel routes from Nepal - which is on the UK's red list for travel - to the UK ahead of the Hundred, and he is hoping to fulfil his £60,000 deal with the Invincibles in that competition. The Hundred begins on July 21 with a standalone women's fixture between the Invincibles and Manchester Originals, with the men's teams playing against each other the following night.
A number of overseas players are expected to follow Rachael Haynes and Jess Jonassen in withdrawing from the Hundred due to clashes with international tours, quarantine requirements and restrictions on overseas travel, though it is understood that no further players have done so as things stand.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98