BBL 2021-22 | Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers: Henriques, Tom Curran anchor SS to another win
8 Dec 2021
Ajaz Patel, who created history by becoming only the third bowler in the world to take 10 international wickets in an innings, believes that the inclusivity that New Zealand offers as a nation has helped him focus n the game and grow as a player and as a person.
Talking about the maniac attack on the Mosque in Christchurch on a praying Friday in 2019, Patel a proud member of the Muslim community said that he was very devasted by it. "But the way Prime Minister, as well as the whole community, responded – with love – we felt included,” he added.
The left-arm slow bowler, who plays for Central Districts in the New Zealand domestic set-up and has represented the country in 11 Tests and 7 T20Is so far, said that he has never faced racism and is rather overwhelmed by how his teammates and the board has gone overboard to accommodate him.
“I won't say it doesn't exist, even though not so much in New Zealand. I actually, through my journey, felt quite comfortable in New Zealand," Ajaz said about racism and the recent Azeem Rafiq issue turning tides in English cricket.
“As soon as I came in [teh team], they have been very respectful about my culture, beliefs, and rituals. Like for me, if I need halal food, they will source it from anywhere they have to. I need a place to pray or do my namaz, I remember in my debut season, they sent someone along with me to the masjid (mosque), so I could pray.
"And also in the change room, if I have to pray in the change room, guys are very, very respectful and give me the space and the time to pray, so I have been very fortunate,” added the 33-year-old.
Ajaz, who was born in Mumbai, India and migrated with his parents at the early age of seven said that New Zealand as a country has accepted him and his family with warmth. He also said that he would like to be a role model for the Asian community in the Kiwi nation by delivering for the country that has given them so much.
"My mom is not judged in New Zealand when she walks out in a burqa. She can roam around without people saying anything. Our neighbours had placed a plant at the entry staircase of our in-construction house, knowing we are Muslims, with a note saying, 'we support you and you are a part of us'." he said.
Talking about being the role model for young kids, Patel, who has so far picked up 54 international wickets said, “Being a spinner is one of the most difficult jobs when it comes to playing cricket in New Zealand. So hopefully, after my achievement, there are going to be more kids in New Zealand who want to become great spinners for New Zealand. I hope it (the 10-fer) inspires children from Asian communities and parents to say 'look there is a pathway here'.”
“I love to be a role model to younger kids and I hope that by the end of my career that I look back on it and say 'I was a good role model'."
Whether or not he would achieve all those things is yet to be seen, but he has achieved something that is achieved only once in a generation.