Ajaz Patel, who originally hails from Mumbai, became only the third bowler in the history of test cricket to get all 10 wickets in an innings and he achieved that remarkable feat, playing for New Zealand against India at the Wankhede Stadium today. It must have been a dream moment, not just for Ajaz, but also for his family who migrated from India to New Zealand in the 90s and worked incredibly hard to help Ajaz have a career in professional cricket.
For Ajaz who was 8 years of age when his family moved to Auckland, making his way to international cricket and into the Blackcaps squad wasn’t easy. He was initially a fast bowler playing age-group cricket in Auckland and although he could swing the ball, he was not really an express fast bowler. Also, because of his height, Ajaz couldn’t really hit the deck as hard as the coaches wanted.
Ajaz Patel thought about switching to spin after being left out of New Zealand U19 squad
It was after Ajaz missed out on selection in the New Zealand U19 squad that he decided he had to switch his profile from a fast bowler to a spinner, if he had to create chances for himself to play for New Zealand at the international level.
For someone who had grown up as a fast bowler right through his development in junior cricket, trying to switch to spin all of a sudden was an incredibly tough task at 20 years of age. But, after a rigorous few months of training with the former New Zealand international Dipak Patel, Ajaz managed to switch to left arm spin.
Ajaz wanted to play first class cricket for Auckland where his family was settled, but he had to move to Central Districts in search of first class opportunities, as Auckland already had a couple of decent spinners in their squad.
Nobody was a bigger inspiration for Ajaz Patel than his father himself
The biggest inspiration for Ajaz Patel, during his struggle, was his father himself who, after migrating to New Zealand, had to learn English to set up an automotive business and make it work. But, never for a second did he give up and eventually made the business successful enough to allow Ajaz a good career and a good life.
Ajaz Patel has still not played as much of international cricket as he would have liked, but that is because New Zealand doesn’t always need a specialist spinner playing in their home test matches. However, the 33-year-old has now become New Zealand’s first choice whenever they travel to Asia.
From being a Mumbaikar to now coming back to Mumbai and getting his name on the honors board of the Wankhede Stadium with a 10-wicket haul in a single innings against his native country India, life has come a full circle for Ajaz.