Ryan Neil ten Doeschate
Calcutta: Ryan Neil ten Doeschate of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) isn’t just a hit with the ladies, he’s in demand in cricket’s shortest format — T20. Ryan, who has played as many matches as the legendary Jacques Kallis in IPL VII, spoke to The Telegraph at the ITC Sonar on Friday evening.
Q Why did you stop playing for the Netherlands after the 2011 World Cup?
A There were personal issues with the coaching staff and the management. Perhaps, things could have been worked through, but I chose to focus on playing for Essex and in the IPL. Here I am.
Didn’t the Royal Dutch Cricket Board persuade you to reconsider?
They did. In fact, I was asked to make myself available for the recent World T20, in Bangladesh. However, as I hadn’t played in the qualifiers, I didn’t think it proper to take somebody else’s place. Also, I’d made a decision to move on.
Is that, then, final?
Well, that’s the way things stand. You don’t rule out something completely, but it would be very difficult to again wear the national colours.
The Netherlands stunned England in the World T20. Did you rejoice?
I was in New Zealand then... The guys have shown serious improvement. They have a bright future and I wish them well.
You’re a Dutch citizen, but were born in South Africa... Didn’t you, early on, aspire to play for the Proteas?
Growing up, that was a dream... I used to watch Kepler Wessels and Jonty Rhodes and wanted to be like them, but... I actually played all sport.
How did you land up in Essex?
Graham Gooch brought the Essex team over to Cape Town for pre-season matches in 2003... He saw me in one of the games and offered a contract. Obviously, he saw something in me which the others didn’t.
So, Gooch has played a significant role in your career...
(Emphasises) The biggest influence on my career has been that of Gooch... He’s mentored me cricket-wise and also taught me to be a better human being. He gave me an opportunity when I probably wasn’t good enough... Opened a door for me... I used to play for Essex from Monday through Saturday and, on Sunday, I’d fly to Holland and honour my commitment in the league there. I’d spend the night at Gooch’s house and he’d drop me off at the airport early on Sunday... That’s the generous kind of person Gooch is.
You must have been disappointed to learn of Gooch’s removal as England’s batting coach...
Yes, but such things happen with a change in regime. Having said that, Gooch had a big part in the success England achieved till the last Ashes. Now, he’ll probably give more time to Essex.
There are only a few professional T20 specialists... You’re one of them. Is it exciting?
For sure. The format itself is exciting and fast... You have a result, no matter what. I should add that the T20 leagues are very competitive and that momentum matters a lot.
How unique is the skill required to succeed in T20?
It’s rather role specific... The essence really is that you should be able to win matches... Should be able to finish it off, with bat or ball.
Is there an ideal T20 player?
Somebody like Kieron Pollard... He’s a good batsman and his bowling has improved a lot... He’s a great fielder as well. In a nutshell, very dynamic.
You’re a veteran at KKR. What have you learnt at the franchise?
That I can’t always be in the XI, yet I have to do my job... The role changes, from an active one to a sit-back role... I’ve also learnt to be a good member of the squad.
Because of the rules, it must be rather frustrating to wait for your chance...
Can get frustrating, but you have to be open-minded about it.
After losing four in a row, KKR staged a phenomenal recovery. What’s your take?
Looking back, there was a bit of hopelessness when we kept losing, more so because we lost a couple of matches we should have won... But that’s been replaced by elation and it was thrilling when we qualified for the play-offs. A few of the guys, like Robbie (Robin Uthappa) and Sunil Narine, have excelled... They’ve taken us over the line a number of times.
What makes the difference when the going isn’t good?
Strong performances. You can throw in words like energy, but you need performers and performances. You need guys to put their hand up.
You must be happy not having to face Narine?
(Laughs) I do face him, at nets... However, he doesn’t bowl the wrong ’uns!
You’re an all-rounder, yet you’re a Jonty admirer... Did his fielding make him an all-rounder?
Of course. Jonty changed the way people looked at fielding. He made himself indispensable. I liked his energy on the field, liked the way he kept himself busy... Liked his enthusiasm.
What goes into the making of fielders who make a difference? You’re yourself outstanding...
Skill is required and you need to keep practising. To some degree, athleticism is a natural gift. But fielding is also about attitude. It’s about anticipating... You’ve got to be involved on every single ball.
Jonty, for sure... Virat Kohli and Kallis, who is outstanding in the slip cordon. Kallis is also my No.1 all-rounder.
What’s it like sharing the KKR dressing room with Kallis?
I’ve been following Kallis’s career from the time I was a schoolboy... Sharing the dressing room space with him has increased my own confidence.
Kallis is keen on playing in the 2015 World Cup... Your thoughts?
South Africa should pick Kallis. They’ll be much stronger with his experience there. As an all-rounder, he’s still right at the top. Moreover, the 50-over game suits Kallis.
You’re into soccer in a big way...
Indeed, I’m passionate... It’s a sport which, I think, sees the highest form of professionalism... It demands so much consistency... Because of my Dutch roots, I root for the Netherlands... In the EPL, I’m an Arsenal fan... I’m happy they won the FA Cup, but I would much have preferred the EPL crown or the Champions League.
The final one... Your hottest teams in the upcoming World Cup...
Spain and Brazil... Spain have a strong squad, while Brazil will be playing at home.