Teams Played For
Central Districts, New Zealand XI, New Zealand, New Zealand A, Yorkshire
If a debutant makes New Zealand win a series after a long drought of 49 years, then that cricketer can not be tagged as an ordinary one. Ajaz Patel, a Test cricketer who got his maiden international cap at the age of 30 years, is certainly not just another cricketer.
Ajaz, born in Mumbai, moved to Auckland as an 8-year-old kid with his family for a better livelihood. He took up the sport at a very late age and started as a left-arm pacer but changed to be a left-arm spinner.
He first tried his luck for Auckland-A before shifting his base to the Central Districts in search of greener pastures. The spinner made his First-Class debut for the Central Districts in December 2012 and got his T20 cap in the same season but had to wait for another three years to play the 50-overs format.
The spinner became the highest wicket-taker in the Plunket Shield for three consecutive seasons to knock at the doors of the national selectors but was competing with the likes of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi for a spot in the Blackcaps’ squad. In 2018, after winning the red-ball tournament for the Central Stags, the spinner got awarded the Men's Domestic Player of the Year.
A national call-up soon followed for the hearty spinner for a full-fledged series against Pakistan in UAE. Ajaz made his T20I debut in October 2018 and a fortnight later, he earned his Test cap. The left-arm spinner shone as bright as anyone on his Test debut. He bagged 13 wickets in the three-match series, including a five-for on debut, to win an away Test series against Pakistan after 49 years. A year later, he took another five-wicket haul and played a vital cog to draw a Test series against the Lankans.
In 2018, Ajaz got contracted with the Central Districts for that season and two years later, New Zealand Cricket eventually included him in the annual contracted player list. The spinner was coached by the 1992 World Cup’s veteran Dipak Patel. Ajaz, thus, became the fifth Kiwi cricketer to have originated from India.
(As of March 2021)