Black Cap Rachin Ravindra on Family and Cricket in India

A cricket bat and a ball were all Rachin Ravindra needed when he visited his family in Bengaluru, India.

Talking to each other was difficult – Ravindra grew up in New Zealand, spoke English and couldn’t understand what her extended family was saying.

So cricket was their way of speaking. Ravindra’s uncles played for him all day, and he played in cramped hallways and backyards with his cousins.

Years later, when a 22 years old Ravindra came out on Green Park stadium in Kanpur for his first Test match with the Black Caps, there were times when the all-rounder slipped into a familiar spot despite the crowds and the pressure.

Tom Latham congratulates Rachin Ravindra for taking a box office on the Black Caps 2021 India Tour. Image: NZ Cricket NZ/Supplied

“I just felt like a kid in India,” he says, “I never liked that I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m playing against the Indian test team’.”

Ravindra was born and raised in New Zealand after his parents moved to Wellington from Bengaluru in the 1990s. He says while he grew up “quite a Kiwi kid”, his parents kept a close bond with his family at home.

Whether in India or New Zealand, cricket was a constant for him. His family was crazy about cricket, and he started playing the game when he was a kid.

When Ravindra was older, he traveled to India not only for his family, but also for cricket tours under the Hutt Hawks banner, a club of his own. father manages.

Established in 2010, the Hutt Hawks is a touring club based in the Hutt Valley. Cricketers from Wellington area clubs form a team under the Hutt Hawks banner and travel to India every year to play cricket for two or three weeks.

“It’s about trying to give exposure to children and adults, across a range of ages, to experience India [and] his cricketing conditions,” says Ravindra.

For the past decade these tours have been a staple of his cricketing schedule, although they are currently on hiatus due to Covid.

“It’s an incredible tool in the development of many cricketers in Wellington and a lot of the guys playing for Wellington at the moment have come through this system.”

Ravindra’s first trip with the Hutt Hawks was when he was around 10 or 11 years old in Bengaluru. Later, he would travel with the team to Anantapur district in southern India, where they would connect with a non-profit organization called The Rural Development Trust (RDT).

“[RDT] is doing an amazing job for India in this region. It is a charitable organization that has done so much for Anantapur district.

Part of RTD’s job is to manage sports programs and initiatives for the development of young athletes. The organization operates sports venues – including cricket grounds – for training purposes and the Hutt Hawks have often traveled to play local teams at these venues.

The trips have been invaluable for cricketers like Ravindra wanting to learn to play in the Indian climate – and against the spin of Indian players on the ball – something Ravindra says is taught differently from New Zealand, which makes it hard to deal with.

The lessons he learned from these travels intertwined with his training in New Zealand, where he quickly rose to prominence as a rising cricketing talent.

He represented New Zealand twice at the Under-19 World Cups, first in 2016 and 2018, and in the 2018-19 season he signed with Wellington. His game caught the attention of the highest levels and he was called up to play for the Black Caps at 21 and made his debut at 22.

“Playing for the Black Caps has always been a dream.”

His debut came in September 2021, when the Black Caps took on India in a two-game Test series.

The day before the first test, Ravindra was crowned in an experiment he says is “incredibly special”. Former cricketer and assistant coach Jimmy Pamment spoke to the team about his life and experiences and presented the caps to the players. Ravindra’s cap had his player number – 282 – embroidered on it and he describes the moment as “being put on a pedestal” for the team, underlining what it means to play for New Zealand.

In the field for this first test in India, the Black Caps had to face a hard fight – as Ravindra came to bat alongside Ajaz Patel, the pair battered for 90 minutes, fending off world-class Indian spinners to end the test match in a draw.

That’s when Ravindra says he slipped into that feeling of playing cricket as a kid in India.

“I barely noticed the crowd. I hardly noticed anything. It was only until the last time that I wasn’t on strike and I was like ‘I’m probably not going to face the ball here, the game is not in my hands'”

“I just looked around the full stadium, the crowd was cheering, going crazy. It was definitely an unforgettable moment and overall kind of a pinch for a debut.

His poise and performance won praise from coach Gary Stead, who said “[It’s] proof that he belongs at this level.”

His second Test was also memorable – against India in Mumbai he was the one to seal the 10and wicket, catching a skier from Mohammed Siraj.

“Ajaz played incredibly well, and he deserved every one of those 10 wickets. To be part of that history was cool,” Ravindra said. “He’s just an amazing player and an even better guy, so to be able to share that with him was pretty cool.”

Upon returning to New Zealand after the second Test, Ravindra then stepped onto the pitch when the Black Caps faced Bangladesh in January 2022.

Banner Image: Rachin Ravindra during the 2021 Black Caps India Tour. Image courtesy of NZ Cricket.

– Asia Media Center

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