Boy Wonder Down Under | Australia U16 cricketer Nivethan Radhakrishnan [Exclusive]

In 2011, an eight-year-old kid in Chennai grabbed the headlines by claiming a hat-trick in a Tamil Nadu Cricket Association lower division match Turn 2018, Nivethan Radhakrishnan, an ambidextrous unique all-rounder, is a pivotal member is a pivotal member of the Australia U-16 side This is the journey of ‘Boy Wonder’ Nivethan from Chennai to Australia Nivethan can bowl off-spin, leg-spin, left-arm spin, chinaman, can throw with both arms and to top it all he is a top-order batsman for his state side (New South Wales juniors) and Australia In 2013, Nivethan moved to Australia with his family and settled down under Like a lot of junior cricketers, I started off with batting and bowling pace but I immediately started bowling spin and this was probably when I was five and a half or six years old and I guess it was just one of those things you know…there was no one doing it out in the open in the international cricket scene so there was really no inspiration… When my son said he wanted to bowl left-arm, I said why don’t you also throw left-arm. And don’t be surprised when he is 18 and when his bones are set you might as well see him bowl left-arm and right-arm medium-pace. So, if a person comes to me and says ‘Sir I can do this better than the other person why should you stop him?…’ But the transition from Chennai to Australia wasn’t that easy for young ‘Nivve’ I guess the main difference with us, as in here in Chennai, and generally in India and over there in Australia…I would say the attitude. Here you know…you see a little kid playing…I out of personal experience… I have played league cricket here since I was a little child… you feel that encouragement from a lot of people, you know the people you play against, they really want you to succeed. They are sort of surprised by the fact that a little kid wants to play out here. You find everyone else guiding you. Over there, it’s a bit like…you know… you are getting thrown out into the rough seas, you sort of have to figure your own way out. In these last six years in Australia, the toughest part was the first three years because we didn’t know their culture. We didn’t know their cricketing set up. We didn’t know what takes a person up. We didn’t know how exactly to deal with the pressures of playing in Sydney Grade Cricket. One fine day in 2017, Nivethan, representing the New South Wales juniors, caught the attention of legendary Greg Chappell as he smashed an unbeaten 193 Soon, Nivethan found himself interacting with a few Australian cricketing stars such as Nathan Lyon, Chris Rogers, Ryan Harris and a few others When I was in U14, we had a spin camp…just three or four spinners… young spinners like myself and we had Nathan Lyon come and have a look at us. And it was my first time seeing him in real life. He had a look at me and he didn’t have too much to say but he gave me a few tips getting through the crease, trying to get a little side on but it was never like an instruction. It was more like…if it works for you, ‘it’s great’, if it doesn’t just do your thing young man’. Nivethan became a key member of the Australia U16 side and featured in quite a few series over the last couple of years Talent is one, skill set is another but ambidextrous all-rounder Nivethan knew fitness mattered the most At first, you know I remember having this chat with Chris Rogers, I got picked in the side and we had assembled before the tournament and he had a chat with me and the first thing he said… ‘Niv…I don’t know if you are better cricketer and all the other coaches say this to me, I don’t know if you are better cricketer than everyone else here…there is a lot of time to judge that. You are only 15. But the skill set you have is vastly different and it incorporates more of the skills in cricket in general. I have to bowl left-arm, right-arm spin, throw in right-arm leggies, left-arm chinaman, field in gully, have to go out in the field, I have to run near the boundary line, I have to open the batting, practice my reverse sweeps…I guess the first thing he said was all about the mindset… he has had a chat with me about that. The second thing he mentioned was fitness. He said I was to train four times on skills alone so you can imagine how much I had to work on my fitness and it’s one aspect of my game that I’m very proud of. Nivethan draws inspiration from the greatest all-rounder ever to have played the sport For me it’s been the one and only, Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers… he has been my idol ever since I knew how to hold the bat. In 2017, Nivethan was part of the Karaikudi Kaalai franchisee in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) And recently, Nivethan was in India on a 40-day cricket education trip to challenge himself in difficult sub-continent conditions and learn the tricks of the trade from various Indian coaches The people that I have met from Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Raghuram Bhat sir…they are all gurus…they are all vidhwans of their field… they are at the peak of knowledge and listening to them, learning their trade, the people that I met in India and learn from, they are all people that my father himself saw as players and they are all people who have achieved in this field and they are all people who have enough knowledge for me, all the other spinners and other batsmen, other cricketers in the world. Listening to them is a boon 16-year-old Nivethan’s dream is to be part of the Australia U19 side for the U19 World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2020 But for now, Nivethan lives by the saying… You can’t score runs from the shed!

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