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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

The life of a globetrotting cricketer – Dirk Nannes

Two countries, 11 teams; Nannes shares what it’s like to be a freelance cricketer

For the average ones among us, variety is a way to add spice to our monotonous lives. But for a few unconventional ones, it’s the way of life. When it comes to the game of cricket, not many fit in the second category as finely as Dirk Nannes does. The left-arm pacer has, till date, represented two countries – Netherlands and Australia – and 11 major cricket teams in total.

That’s not all. Nannes is the only cricketer to have participated in all four editions of the Champions League Twenty20, with a different team each time. It was the Delhi Daredevils (India) in 2009, the Victorian Bushrangers (Australia) in 2010, Royal Challengers Bangalore (India) in 2011 and the Highveld Lions (South Africa) in 2012. The globetrotting T20 cricketer chuckles at the mention of this unique feat of his which has “quite an experience”.

In a chat with clt20.com, Nannes described the pros and cons of life as a freelance cricketer.

What will the Lions gain from your vast experience in this tournament?

I don’t think there’s too much to gain; the only thing is probably a calm head and the knowledge of people that you’re playing against. It’s my knowledge of situations and not so much that of the tournament. You can’t tell someone how to behave in front of 40,000 people in the stadium and 20 million watching on TV. Fortunately they played a couple of years ago and that experience will help them more.

How confident are you to be fourth time lucky and be part of the title-winning team?

It was very disappointing the last time when we lost to the Mumbai Indians in the final. In India the IPL teams are favourites but in these conditions it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Any South African or Australian team is going to do better in these conditions, which are very familiar to them. Having said that, the Indian players are getting a lot better too, because they play around the world so much these days. So it’s anyone’s game.

How does playing for all these teams in different parts of the world help you evolve as a cricketer?

It helps you understand your game a little bit better but sometimes it can be tough as well because it takes you away from your comfort zone. For instance, when I play in Australia I know exactly how to go about my game. For six weeks you groom yourself to play in those conditions and then travel to the subcontinent where you find completely different conditions. You kind of have to de-train your mind and let go of a certain pattern that you’re following. Sometimes, it can get a bit confusing as a bowler to having to adapt to different conditions all the time. But it’s a good experience to have and it makes you a good all-round cricketer, especially mentally.

Is it also tough to adapt to the dynamics of different teams?

No, absolutely not. Every cricket team around the world has the exact same characters. Every change room has the same kind of people; there’s a funny bloke and a serious guy. It’s not at all difficult to fit in. Fortunately, I play cricket and cricket breeds good people. So, it’s never a challenge to get along with the guys in different teams.

Is it, at times, tough to have that sense of belonging when you keep changing your allegiance?

I guess it can be. Professionally no, but on a personal level yes. Like any international cricketer, who travels around the world, sometimes you want to go home and chill out for a week. But unfortunately you don’t get that very often. At times, you travel for eight months, before getting to go home, which gets hard at the personal level. Professionally, however, it’s never been a problem.

You pair up with Sohail Tanvir at the Lions. How is he as a bowling partner?

He’s a good guy to speak to about cricket because he brings a whole new dynamic to the game. Although we’re both left-arm pacers, he’s a very different bowler to me; the way he approaches his game and tries to get wickets is very different from how I do it. Also, at times you play with some people who are garbage speaking about cricket – you just get nothing off them. But Sohail is someone you can get a lot out of. He’s also quite giving in terms of the knowledge and information he has.

Do you believe that fast bowlers hunt in pairs?

How you bowl has absolutely nothing to do with who’s bowling at the other end. It’s always good if someone at the other end is going at three runs per over.  But it has nothing to do with the way he bowls and the strategies he follows. You don’t alter your game depending on your partner’s game plan. 

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