Rachin Ravindra, the New Zealand batting allrounder looks back on a very memorable World CupRachin Ravindra, the New Zealand batting allrounder looks back on a very memorable World Cup
Rachin Ravindra turned 24 just after starring for New Zealand in a very successful World Cup, where he finished as the fourth highest run-getter, with 578 runs, including three hundreds. On the sidelines of a nets session ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh in Sylhet, Ravindra talked to us about playing his first major tournament, his partnerships with Kane Williamson and Devon Conway, and what he’s focusing on as an exciting future unfolds in front of him.
How would you describe your World Cup?
I have probably been asked this question a little bit. It is pretty surreal. I think playing the World Cup in India, to be able to experience that, win some games, being in the playoffs, was pretty special. The India crowd is unbelievable. Every chance you get to play in such a cricket-crazy nation is always very enjoyable. I think it is important to cherish what has happened, let it soak in. But I understand everything moves on and we are focused on whatever challenge is ahead.
When did you find out that you would be batting at No. 3 in the opening World Cup game, against England?
I found out towards the back end of training on the day before the match. I wasn’t really expecting to be playing, in terms of the team make-up. Luckily enough, I got a chance to bat at No. 3. It was pretty cool to play my first World Cup game and to be able to share that with Dev [Devon Conway], someone I idolise and am very close with. It was pretty special.
What was your conversation like with your captain, Williamson, whose position you were playing in?
There wasn’t anything too crazy. Kane is such a good leader. He does what he speaks. He acts what he speaks. Even when he wasn’t playing, his leadership was huge. The message from the team environment was to do your own processes. Trust the process. A lot of the time in cricket, the results can be very up and down. You control what you can control - how you prepare and how you go about it ball after ball. Whatever the result is, you can sit back and say: I gave it my best.
How did you get into your zone in the first match, against the defending champions?
I was trying to detach from all that noise: first game of the World Cup, you have to start well against England, a world-class team, you have do this, do that. But I think if we can really dumb it down, to make it simple: what was required from us? Watching the ball and reacting to what’s in front of us, adapting to that situation. I think it was more important to stay away from all those narratives and play the bat-and-ball game in front of us.
How enjoyable was it to bat with Conway in that 283-run partnership?
It was awesome. I spent a lot of time with Dev, not just on the field; we always spend time in each other’s rooms. We chat about cricket and other things. It was pretty cool to be out there with him, seeing him score 150 not out - what a special innings that was. Having the best seat in the house for that. I bat a lot with him for Wellington.
Did your expectations from yourself increase after the century against England?
I think as a cricketer or as a competitor, you want to do well, so no matter what, you will have expectations of yourself, for the team and everything. Like I mentioned before, you take away all that external stuff and focus on what’s at hand. It doesn’t matter what happens in the future. If you are present ball by ball, what will be, will be. You are allowed to have a good day and a bad day. If it’s your day, make use of it.
What was it like playing Australia in that high-scoring game in Dharamsala where you scored your second hundred?
It was cool. Obviously a world-class bowling line-up. It was the first time I was playing Australia at any professional level. The opportunity to face [Pat] Cummins, [Josh] Hazlewood, [Mitchell] Starc and [Adam] Zampa - these are very, very good bowlers in their own right. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, try to do what I do well. It helped the lot batting with the other guys. Being able to share partnerships with [Will] Young, Daryl [Mitchell] and Tommy Latham certainly helped me a lot.
New Zealand seem to have a very team-first environment. There’s no superstar culture. Does that help when you have suddenly made a lot of runs? It keeps you grounded, doesn’t it?
I don’t think there’s any sort of thing like a superstar [culture]. We all enjoy our cricket, we are all good mates who love to spend time with each other on and off the field. I think it definitely helps to have a good team environment and pushing what you do best for the team. It doesn’t matter how many runs you get. It’s for the team. Obviously, you are focused on contributing to the team, not necessarily your own personal accolade. That will come if you push the team in the right direction.
Your third hundred of the World Cup came against Pakistan, in a partnership with Williamson. It must have also have been special to get a big score in Bengaluru, where your father is from.
It was cool to score that hundred in Bangalore where my father is from, but sharing the crease with Kane, someone I have idolised during my teenage years, someone I modelled a little bit of my game [after], in the way he goes about it, was pretty cool. I saw how he gets into his zone, his bubble. It is very unique. I cherish every single moment I get to bat with my team-mates. They have so much experience, such world-class cricketers. It was pretty fun.
You ended up as the fourth highest run-getter in the World Cup. What does this mean for you at this moment in your career?
Firstly, I am grateful to be in this position, grateful to play games in the World Cup. It worked out reasonably well. Apart from all that, it is cool to see your name among world-class cricketers. Honestly though, it is not the complete reason why I play cricket. It is nice but not necessary that I play for personal accolades. You play to push the team forward. Whatever results come as part of the process and journey is a bonus.
Before the tournament began, you said your role in the World Cup would be to bowl and score quick runs in the back end of the innings. But you went on to open the innings instead. How did you adjust your mindset?
I think it is a lot of trust. I have been a top-order batter all my life. I have played in the top three in all formats for Wellington. I used my experience. You trust your plans and what you have done in the past. You trust what you have learned from other people. I might not have got opportunities in the top order in the past, but it shows the team that we have. It is an experienced team with world-class performers. It was nice to have that little transition period to get used to international cricket, and then when I got a chance [in the top order], I was lucky enough to do reasonably well. It was a cool opportunity. The way it happened suddenly didn’t give me too much time to think about it, which was quite good.
Did you get to catch up with your family in India during the World Cup?
I got to catch up with both sides of my family. My grandparents on my mom’s side, my uncle and aunty. It was nice to connect with them after a little while. It was a little feeling of home in a different country. I get to see them when I do go to India.
Did your dad’s love for cricket fuel your connection with the game?
I think so. Dad played club cricket, he watched a lot of cricket, played it on PlayStation as well. It was always on around the house all the time. Naturally I picked it up. Mum and Dad would always throw me plastic balls. I always wanted to bat or bowl. It accumulated to where I am today. They never forced me to play cricket at all. It happened naturally. I really enjoyed playing cricket with my mates. I enjoyed going to the nets every day, hitting and bowling balls. I guess that’s how it happened.
Was Daniel Vettori your hero growing up?
Yeah, huge. I tried to model my action around him. He was an unbelievable bowler. The amount of drop he got, his consistency. I definitely love watching him bowl.
Do you have conversations about spin bowling with Mitchell Santner these days?
We have a spin-heavy group in Bangladesh - Ish [Sodhi], Jazzy [Ajaz Patel], [Mitchell] Santner, GP [Glenn Phillips]. They are all very good bowlers. I have a great connection with every single one of them.
Santner has an unbelievable brain for cricket. His left-arm spin-bowling knowledge is through the roof. He is a world-class bowler. You see the amount of revs he gets on the ball. The beauty of it all is that he is this calm guy who doesn’t go up or down at all. He goes about his work, bowls the right ball. Makes for a very cool idol to aspire to.
Has your life changed since the World Cup?
I wouldn’t say that my life has changed. I’m still the same. I am Rachin. I enjoy the time with my team-mates and family. Hopefully nothing really changes that.
I get a little bit more attention from people. They ask for photos and signatures. I have more presence online, or whatever it is. I think it’s bound to happen when you have a few good games.
How has your dad reacted to all this?
Like everyone close to me, he was very happy, very proud. Dad seems to keep it very level. He keeps his cards close to his chest. Mum was very happy. You can feel the love and support from everyone. My big friend group watched every game. They talked about it in the group chat, which was really cool. I would read it at the end of the game. It made me feel the love of my good mates, my support from my family. It is special when you are playing a World Cup.
How would you define “expectations” then, at this stage?
I don’t think you necessarily have to be like, “I have scored this many runs, I have scored this many hundreds, so I have to do this.” For me, that’s when I get tense and worried about the results. How the team functions is to figure out what process we use to get each other better. We drive ourselves to the direction we want to go. Whatever happens after that will take care of itself. I am not worried about runs and wickets and stuff. I think you just work hard and see where it takes you.
Your performance at the World Cup begs the question whether an IPL contract is on the way. Do those things cross your mind - that life is about to get very busy?
Whether it is noise or what is being reported, I think what’s important, what matters right now is what series you have in front of you. There’s so much time to the IPL. There’s no guarantee that I will get picked up [in the auction]. There are no guarantees in life and cricket. I am just focused on what’s in front of me: the Bangladesh Test series. You stay in the present, you savour those moments. Every moment I get to play for New Zealand, I am very, very grateful. –Cricinfo