Interview with Ryan Ninan: People will be hoping that Dhoni-led CSK make a strong comeback in IPL
Ryan Ninan is a 32-year-old all-rounder who was one of 58 players from Cricket Australia to be drafted in the IPL Auction. After playing a few domestic matches for Goa and Karnataka, Ninan moved to Australia and trained with the main squad of Melbourne Renegades. It will not come as a surprise if we see him playing in the Big Bash League after nine months.
In this exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Ryan talks about his cricketing career in Australia and also the upcoming IPL season.
What was your experience in the Money Gram Cup where you captained the Melbourne Renegades' multicultural side?
Ryan Ninan: The Money Gram Cup was a three-match bilateral series in which we came up against the Sydney Thunder multicultural side. Cricket Australia is actively involved in 'community engagement' and making cricket a sport for all and this tournament presented a lot of us from South-Asian backgrounds with another opportunity to showcase our skills.
It was certainly a privilege to lead a talented group of players for the Red Army, as a few of them on the squad had U-19 World Cup experience and first-class games under their belt before they migrated to Australia. The Sydney Thunder squad also had a couple of players who were contracted with the main squad before, so it was a well-fought series.
We were one down in the series and came back strong in the second to win both games and take the series. Each player brought in unique skill sets, so it felt amazing to win and have everyone contribute. It also gave the franchise representatives an opportunity to witness some of the talent on show.
Personally, I had a good series by topping the bowling charts with 5 wickets in three games at 4 runs per over and managed to see us home in the decider with the bat.
You trained with the main squad of the Melbourne Renegades this season. Do you see yourself in the main squad in the next Big Bash League?
Ryan Ninan: Yeah, I got an opportunity to train with the Renegades this season and it was a good few weeks of learning against some of the best power hitters in international cricket. It certainly shaped my confidence levels for the second half of the Victorian premier season.
I have had a good season with the ball in all formats of the game in premier cricket and did well in the Melbourne Renegades community event as well, so I would like to believe that I stand a chance now that I am a local. However, the next BBL is nine months away. The current focus is to enjoy this time off and reflect on the season that was and plan on how I can best prepare myself for the next season.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned that Mayank Agarwal is one of your best friends. Where do you see him in the future after his fantastic domestic season this year?
Ryan Ninan: I've known Mayank for a little over a decade now but we started really getting close after our time together at Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011 and 2012. We realized we had a lot in common after that— in the way we approached our training, etc.
We also train under the same coach in Bangalore— RX Muralidhar. Mayank is a fighter, so to see him score a triple hundred after a couple of pairs was something I would have backed him to do. That said, you can't quite put words together when a guy scores 2000 plus runs in a domestic season.
I certainly believe he will get his opportunity sooner rather than later in the highly competitive Indian batting line up. But knowing him, his focus will be on doing well in the IPL and continuing his good run.
You were one of 58 Australians who was drafted into the IPL auction this year. How do you view this development?
Ryan Ninan: I still pinch myself a lot and wonder if this is all true because the last four years have been unreal in a lot of ways. I received my PR last July and it was one of the happiest days of my life after the waiting period I went through.
I not only get to live in one of the best countries in the world but get to qualify to play as a local. I did not expect to make it to the final list of the auction when I put my name in so I was certainly surprised when I was one of the Australians who made the cut. It certainly is a step in the right direction and I dream of making it back into the IPL again in the future but the immediate focus is to tick certain other boxes in Australia first.
You were a regular at the NCA in Bangalore for a few years and once tipped a potential national prospect. How did that experience help?
Ryan Ninan: That phase seems like ages ago now. I was fortunate enough to get picked for Karnataka in the under 16s as soon as I left school and things happened really fast after that. I managed to stay consistent through the junior grades for Karnataka and that got me opportunities in the NCA with the best from around the country.
I remember the Indian senior squad too had a lot of preparatory camps around then in Bangalore before their season so it gave a lot of us in the NCA an opportunity to train with them and test our skills and even play practice matches at times.
That overall phase was great and developed a sense of inner belief in me which I have worked hard on getting back over the last 4 -5 years, so I will always be grateful for all those opportunities.
You’re a qualified Cricket Australia Level 1 coach. What are the responsibilities you have to fulfil as a coach?
Ryan Ninan: Every player involved with cricket in Australia is encouraged to get their coaching badges and 'working with children' checks. Most clubs run a milo program where the senior players go down and encourage young kids to play the game and develop skill sets in the right manner. I love working with kids so I actually have a lot of fun at these programs interacting with these kids. Also, I make it a point to visit Ryan Cricket Academy whenever I am in Bangalore and go give the trainees there a lesson or two.
IPL will be beginning in less than a month and it’s surely going to be a blockbuster as it marks the return of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals after 2 years. Which team do you think has the upper hand in the tournament?
Ryan Ninan: I have not checked the squads in detail. It's T20 cricket so you can never put your money on one particular team. I am certain a lot of people will be hoping that the Dhoni-led CSK team will make a strong comeback in the IPL.
What advice would you give cricketers who aspire to take a different path to realize their dreams?
Ryan Ninan: I believe each one of us has a unique story to tell. I moved to Australia with no expectations, but I knew I loved being out in the park a lot. So, based on the lessons I've learnt in the last four years through the ups and downs, I believe one should love what they do, keep showing up and immerse yourself without looking back. Life throws up a lot of challenges, it’s up to you whether you choose to embrace those challenges or wilt under pressure.