Former New Zealand cricketer Dipak Patel has said that the 10 wicket haul from Ajaz Patel against India in the Mumbai Test will open the doors for more Asian players in New Zealand. He also added that Ajaz’s historic performance will encourage Indian kids to say there is nothing to stop them.
Ajaz Patel achieved a historic feat of becoming the third cricketer to pick 10 wickets in an innings in Test cricket on day 2 of the Mumbai Test. Ajaz leaked 119 runs in his spell taking 10 wickets and also bowled the best spell for New Zealand in Test cricket.
Former New Zealand cricketer Dipak Patel has coached Ajaz, and helped him to develop his spin bowling. Ajaz became the fourth India-origin cricketer after Dipak, Jeetan Patel and Ish Sodhi to play for New Zealand.
Reflecting on the Ajaz's performance, Dipak said that it will open the doors for Asian players in New Zealand and further opined that it is time that outsiders in the country should be given an equal opportunity to rise at the top.
"I think it (unequal opportunities for outsiders) has always been the case," Dipak was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. "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 added.
Dipak played for New Zealand from 1987-1997 and picked 75 wickets in 37 Test matches and 45 wickets in 75 ODIs. Also, the cricketer was a part of New Zealand’s 1992 ODI World Cup run to the semi-final under the leadership of Martin Crowe. Dipak revealed that the Asian cricketers are not getting equal opportunities at the international level and players like Ajaz will inspire Indian kids from their performance.
"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)?,” he explained.
"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."
Reflecting on his own career, Dipak revealed that the lack of equal opportunities made him mentally stronger.
"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,” he stated.
Ajaz bowled 47.5 overs including 12 maidens in his historic spell being the sole wicket-taker for the visitors. Dipak credited Tom Latham for showing patience with Ajaz and bowling him long spells.
"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,” he concluded.
India are in a strong position as New Zealand are on 140/5 with a target of 540 runs ahead of them and two days to be played in the fixture.