Every Indian should be familiar with the name Ajaz Patel. For the uninitiated, he is a member of the New Zealand Test team that is currently touring India for the Test series. This New Zealand bowler, who accomplished something similar to Anil Kumble's feat for India, has roots in India, specifically Mumbai.
Who is Ajaz Patel?
“You'll probably read about how I'm from India, how I went from being a fast bowler to a spinner, and how it took me more than ten years to play international cricket. But when I think of it, I remember myself as a small child growing up in Mumbai, who saw his parents work tirelessly every day in order for me to have a better life with more opportunities,” said the cricketer himself in an interview with a new site, after the whistle.
Patel had a rather difficult life. He would borrow bats and pads from others to practice and kept his faith in difficult times as well. He always dreamed of playing for New Zealand one day and never strayed away from that goal.
Childhood in Mumbai
The New Zealand spinner had a typical Indian life. He grew up in a Mumbai household where his parents worked round the clock. His dad worked work in refrigeration and his mother was a schoolteacher. His focus while growing up was only on studies and concentrating in school. That’s what happens in a middle-class family. Parents work while kids are to be focused on studies.
“There’s a big middle-class society in India and parents are constantly working while the kids are thrown into this cycle of study, study, study,” shared Patel with the news site. He even speaks on the societal pressure that kids face. The need to get good marks and higher rank in class is prevalent.
During all this, you can join a club in your school if you want to. There are different sports clubs in most of the schools. But their financial condition was not such that would allow Patel to join such clubs.
In 1996, the family moved to New Zealand. They wanted a better life and decided to move. Initially, it didn’t hit him much as to what this change meant. He was only 6-7 years old and tried adjusting to the schooling there. There was an obvious change in everything, even his accent that sounded Indian in the beginning but changed over time.
Cricket and Change in Life
“I've always loved cricket, having spent so much time playing it in India. In New Zealand, it wasn't as common on the streets, but we used to play in the backyard a lot as a family. We'd arrange competitions pitting older cousins against younger cousins, Test matches against one-dayers, and so on. That kind of thing sparked my interest in the game early on. Fast bowling came easily to me,” he added.
Over the years he got calls from New Zealand but it didn’t work out in the end and he was not selected. It was a disappointment for some time. But finally in 2018, when he was 30 years old, he received a call once again. He did not want to have high hopes or anything.
When I answer the phone, the name appears on the screen. "Here we go again," I thought, remembering the prior calls. He began to speak, but it took him an eternity to finish. "Look, Ajaz," he said, "we've got this tour going out to the UAE," and he stated everything except selection. "By the way, you've been selected for the New Zealand A squad," he finally said. It was incredible, recalled Ajaz.
India vs New Zealand match
This New Zealand bowler, who accomplished something akin to Anil Kumble's feat for India, has roots in India, specifically Mumbai. Ajaz Patel only took three wickets in the first test match between India and New Zealand at Kanpur. In the 46 balls he bowled against India, his statistics were 3/150.
In the second test match between the Men in Blue and the Kiwis, though, he sprung a massive surprise on India. When the scoreboard displayed his achievement, Indians couldn't suppress their joy, believing that the Patel surname meant he was playing for India. Their joy was short-lived, however, when they learned that this talented player was currently touring India with the New Zealand national squad.