Indian-origin Jeet Raval reveals how he overcame language barrier to break into the New Zealand team
When New Zealand’s squad for the upcoming Test tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa was announced, one name caught everyone by surprise. Eager to utilise the opportunity, the uncapped Jeet Raval opened up on his journey from Gujarat to Auckland.
Speaking to reporters from New Zealand's training camp in Pretoria, the 27-year old admitted that he did not expect his maiden international call-up and expressed excitement on joining the Kiwis.
Raval quipped, “For me, it's about learning as much as I can and just be myself. The coaches have told me that I'm here only because I love the game and that there's no need to change anything. So when I get the opportunity, I'll be ready to go.”
Looking forward to showcasing his mettle during the preparatory sessions, the Indian-origin cricketer added, “It's a nice and relaxed environment. All the boys have been welcoming, so I'm really enjoying my time so far.”
The major reason behind Raval’s selection was due to a prolific 2015-16 Plunket Shield season with Auckland which yielded 780 runs at an average of 55.71. However, things were not as easy when he first shifted base from India to New Zealand.
The opener reminisced, “At the start I completely hated it. It was a massive cultural change. I couldn't understand a word of what the teacher said on my first day of school at Avondale College because I couldn't speak English. I went home and started crying to my mum and said, 'Mum let's got back to India because I don't know what's going on here.‘
“Now, I've found a new home here in Auckland for the last few years. I've scored a few runs and got a call from Gavin Larsen when I was playing club cricket in the United Kingdom. I told my wife first and then called my dad back home in New Zealand. He was over the moon. So, I want to just enjoy this opportunity and be myself.“
New Zealand’s trip to Zimbabwe begins with a practice match in Harare before the two-Test series gets underway at Bulawayo. The Blackcaps are set to continue their African safari with a couple of Tests against South Africa as well.