Nepal enjoy their lap of honour at Lord's ©Philip Barker

Nepal’s cricketers believe they could be playing test match cricket in less than 20 years if a two tier international set-up becomes a reality. 

"Cricket has become really popular back home, our goal is to get one-day international (ODI) status and hopefully play test cricket in the next 20 years,’’ said Nepal captain Paras Khadka.

"Test cricket is the ultimate goal, if we start building the rocks now then ten or 15 years down the line we might be able to reach it."

It might not be as far-fetched as you would think if Nepal’s first visit to Lord’s Cricket Ground was anything to go by. 

They brought 4,000 excited fans to London NW8.

Many wore replica shirts and all were determined to savour a match against Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to celebrate 200 years of friendship between Nepal and Great Britain. 

The sun shone, temperatures soared above 30 degrees and smiles were obligatory.

The Brigade of Gurkhas even serenaded the crowd during the lunch interval, impressing everyone with their double quick time march in the blistering sun. 

MCC club matches normally attract much smaller crowds but this was streamed live on the internet so the real audience may well have included many thousands more following every ball back in Nepal where the monsoon season is in full flow.

Nepal warm-up before the start of play ©Philip Barker
Nepal warm-up before the start of play ©Philip Barker

On this sun drenched day, there was no danger of even the slightest shower, though the scoreboard steadfastly reported the Duckworth-Lewis par score, the formula used for calculating results in case of rain.

Nepal won the toss and batted on the same wicket used for the England v Pakistan test match two days before. 

They proceeded to post 217-8 in their 50 overs thanks to 39 from opener Gyanendra Malla and 30 from Khadka, every run cheered to the echo by the fans.

Despite a sparkling 100 from George Adair, MCC fell increasingly behind the run rate as Nepal’s bowlers tightened the screw. 

There were three wickets apiece for Sagar Pun and Basant Regmi as Nepal bowled out the home club to win by 41 runs. 

A lap of honour by the victorious team sent their supporters into raptures of delight.

"This will put Nepal on the cricketing map of the world and be one of the stepping stones if we set the right platform," said Khadka.

He points to the example of Sri Lanka, another small nation which first played test cricket in 1982. 

By 1996, the Sri Lankans had also lifted the Cricket World Cup.

That 1996 tournament was held in the sub continent and proved a pivotal moment for aspiring cricketers in Nepal.

‘‘All our cricketers have come through watching cricket on TV, there has not been an academy which has produced cricketers," said Khadka.

"I used to watch a lot of cricket on television when I was young. 

"We used to look up to players like Sachin Tendulkar, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram."

Khadka hit a century as Nepal beat Namibia in the World Cricket League on home soil back in April but the road ahead is not entirely clear. 

Earlier this month, the ICC confirmed a suspension imposed on the Cricket Association of Nepal because of Government interference.

‘’Because of the ban, there is no local cricket and no local administration so I hope this ban is lifted as soon as possible," said Khadka.

"We need a proper management. 

"The ICC is taking Nepal cricket seriously and that is why they want proper people to run the game. 

"Hopefully in the next few weeks we will get the right people."

Nepal supporters enjoy their day at Lord's ©Philip Barker
Nepal supporters enjoy their day at Lord's ©Philip Barker

Former Sri Lankan test wicket-keeper Pubudu Dassanayake came in to coach the national team in 2011 and is now a consultant coach.

"Once I joined, I saw the potential they have to become a full member country in time," he said.

Within three years Nepal had qualified for the World T20s and beat Hong Kong and Afghanistan in their first round group.

"They have lots of talent and it is a cricket crazy country, but there was no system in place, not enough domestic tournaments or capacity in our grounds so the administration did not keep up with the growth of the game," said Dassanayake.

When the earthquake struck last year, cricketers rallied round to help, visiting those who had been made homeless by the disaster.

"The national team went round to the camps and played cricket with the kids and that made a huge impact," Dassanayake added.

Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand also helped raise money to help with disaster relief.

MCC toured Nepal in the winter of 2015 and offered coaching and other guidance. 

Fifteen-year-old leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane impressed Australian captain Michael Clarke when the pair met at the Hong Kong Blitz T20 tournament. 

An invitation to play at Clarke’s academy followed.

Nepal, meanwhile, continue their tour next month with a visit to Amstelveen to play The Netherlands.