Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Ajaz's perfect 10 will open doors for more Asian players - Dipak Patel. Ajaz Patel's 10 wickets in an innings will serve as an inspiration for Asian cricketers in New Zealand, believes Dipak Patel
Ajaz Patel's 10 wickets in an innings will serve as an inspiration for Asian cricketers in New Zealand, believes Dipak Patel
Dipak Patel, the former New Zealand spinner, hopes that Ajaz Patel’s recent 10-wicket haul against India, which put him in an elusive list of cricketers, will serve as an inspiration for many Asian cricketers who are hopeful of playing for New Zealand.
Ajaz, born to Indian parents, was brought up in Mumbai before his family moved to New Zealand when he was 8 years old. Having gone through the domestic grind of New Zealand cricket, he went on to become the fourth Indian-origin cricketer after Dipak, Jeetan Patel and Ish Sodhi to represent the country.
However, Dipak, who is also Ajaz’s coach, believes there hasn’t been an equal opportunity for growth of players from Asian origin. But he believes Ajaz’s efforts will raise hopes and open a few more doors.
“I think it (unequal opportunities for outsiders) has always been the case,” Dipak stressed. “We are a minority in a foreign country. It is much more difficult, there is no question about it. I don’t want to say it is a secret, it was not easy for me. England have taken a much better approach in taking the Asian cricketers along. I think it is time it happened in New Zealand as well. They should be given equal opportunity to rise to the top.”
He further added, “There are plenty of Indians, Sri Lankan, Pakistani boys who play cricket here now, including women. There are plenty of opportunities, but did they get to the top level is the question. Over the years, sporadically we do get kids coming through, but it is when they get to the international level, I don’t think they are getting equal opportunities. That will be the big test for New Zealand cricket. How can they build on this (Ajaz’s performance)?
“People like Ajaz are inspirational. They will encourage a lot more Indian kids to say there is nothing to stop us. I will keep an eye on young spinners coming through and hope to see a lot more are given opportunities.”
Recalling his time as a cricketer, Dipak, who played 37 Tests and 76 ODIs in the 80s and 90s, said, “I am more than comfortable to say that it was not easy for me. It did not stop me. It made me mentally stronger. I was never going to give in because I was not given equal opportunity. It made me stronger. Ajaz would agree himself that he won’t take that as an obstacle.”
At a time when world cricket is reeling under allegations of racism and discrimination against Asian origin players in England, is there discrimination against Asian origin cricketers in New Zealand as well? Dipak refused to dwell into that. “I don’t want to start opening up wounds here,” he quipped. “I am not going to make such statements. We are a minority and to get the recognition it is that much more difficult. I will like to think that going into the future, Ajaz’s performance will help younger Asian people to get their recognition.”
He credited stand-in skipper Tom Latham for persisting with the left-arm spinner. “I must mention here that Tom Latham, the skipper, must take a lot of credit. He showed a lot of patience with Ajaz and bowled him for long spells.”
Simon Doull had declared that Ajaz has become a part of New Zealand cricket’s folklore and rated his Perfect Ten as one of the peaks of the country’s cricket. Dipak had his point on Ajaz becoming a New Zealand legend. “They can’t take the record away. He is the third cricketer in the history of the game. You and I will agree what will count is his record by the time he finishes cricket. That is what it comes down to and the legacy he will leave behind. Is he going to be one of the great spinners of all time? We don’t know. Only time will tell.
“His performance yesterday has to be up there with the other two people who achieved that. If you look at Anil Kumble’s record and Jim Laker’s, Ajaz does not have the career those people had when they finished. Will Ajaz have that kind of record, only time will tell. If he is given that opportunity, six-seven-eight years or whatever he can play, that will test where he will sit in the record books.”
Even as New Zealand are poorly placed in the Test, and are under threat of losing the match, Dipak believes Ajaz’s experience in India, and the learnings from the series, will hold him in good stead going forward. “He is lucky to be playing against India, supposedly the best batsmen to play against spin. He is very lucky in the sense that he has watched some classical spinners in R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel. He is a very good learner. He has learnt that he can’t afford to bowl too many bad balls. He has learnt to have a plan for every batsman.
“We frequently chat, we talk about his tactics. He is very alert. He is a knowledgeable person, always willing to learn from the players he plays against and plays with. Yesterday he was patient, he bowled a very long spell. To take 10 wickets, you got to be bowling 30-35 overs in an innings, which is a rarity for spin bowlers coming from New Zealand.”
He is hopeful that Ajaz’s performance in the ongoing Mumbai Test, where he bagged 14 wickets, will help get a longer run in the team. “He should be a permanent selection in the team after yesterday’s (December 4) performance. Where the issue lies is how much more cricket he is going to play for New Zealand. He is only in his early 30s (33) and he could compete for another seven-eight years. There is nothing to stop him if the opportunities are given to play on a regular basis.”