Michael Rippon: "As a spinner in New Zealand you have to learn to play a holding role"

Michael Rippon: “As a spinner in New Zealand you have to learn to play a holding role”

Earlier this year, when the left arm brewer Michael Rippon represented the Netherlands in the ODIs against New Zealand, he was facing players he trains with all year round in Otago. Last month, the thirties was named in the New Zealand squad for their limited tour of Ireland. If he plays in the series, which kicks off today, it could be the latest twist in a career that began more than 11 years ago in Cape Town. In this chat, Rippon talks about how he got from South Africa to New Zealand via the Netherlands.

Different countries, different experiences. It’s been quite a journey for you.
It’s pretty cool, isn’t it? I was born and raised in Cape Town, but qualified to play for the Netherlands thanks to my maternal grandfather, who moved there in the late 1970s. And then in 2017, I moved from South Africa to New Zealand on a short-term contract as a substitute player. I really had no idea that this was where I would make my life and that one day, maybe, I would play for the Black Caps.

How did you get started bowling with left arm wrist rotation?
I started out as a left-arm fast bowler, but watched a lot of Shane Warne and Brad Hogg grow up. It was Jonathan Trott’s father, Ian, who first told me that I could try my hand at left arm rotation. I started with the left arm orthodox, but felt like doing a left arm wrist spin, and the variations came naturally to me, so in under-15s representative cricket, I did change.

How to flourish as a spinner in New Zealand?
You have to make peace with the fact that you won’t always take buckets of wickets. You have to learn to play a holding role, to put pressure on the hitters. This is where I guess my variations and left arm wrist rotation come in. There’s a novelty factor to begin with, and just the art is such that there’s always a bit of intrigue . If you can do it right, you can do a job in different kinds of conditions.

The willingness to learn and improve in difficult conditions is something I love. I want this opportunity to matter and take it step by step.

Devonit is [Conway, also a South African-born New Zealand cricketer] an example of how if you are determined you can achieve what you want. You saw it start like it did last year, and the story of the rest. I take inspiration from him.

How did you qualify to play for the Netherlands?
Because I had a European passport, I was able to move to the UK for a stay in Sussex county. It was then that the rumor spread that I could also qualify to play for the Netherlands. They asked me if I would like to play for them and I thought it was a great opportunity. From 2013 to 2016, I was part of the team’s journey through Division Two of the World Cricket League. Since we were relegated there, we were trying to qualify for WCL Division 1.

Earlier this year you were chosen by the Netherlands after more than three years.
Since Covid hit and I hadn’t been granted residency in New Zealand I couldn’t leave the country [New Zealand], which thwarted my ambition to play for the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup last year. Also, it didn’t fit our indoor schedule here. When the Netherlands announced a historic tour of New Zealand, everything went perfectly. I was in a lucky position. I made it clear to the Netherlands my ambition to play for New Zealand. They understood it. Playing for them was a great chance to play at international level.

Towards the end of this cycle, Anton Roux, a former Dutch international who was our coach, took on the role of assistant coach with Otago Volts. That’s when my contact with New Zealand began.

I went to start just a month as cover for one of the local Otago players. I was able to play and I had some good matches. Because I enjoyed my stay there, I considered the possibility of staying longer.

You have also inspired others to come to New Zealand.
(Laughs). Yeah, that was about when I got a call from Devon, who asked me how the country life was. I talked about it with enthusiasm, and it was then that he too decided to come. I thought he came to Otago, but he went to Wellington.

What were your takeaways from your time in the Netherlands?

Associated cricket is ruthless. In 2014 we finished outside the top six so we lost ODI status and funding. I remember sitting at the team hotel after our loss to Kenya wondering what we were going to do next. We had to find jobs. Some of the guys were considering college. We didn’t know where our future was. But then we set our sights on being the best associate and we went through a three-year cycle to try to get there. Of course, after the 2019 World Cup, the Super League was born, which allowed us to compete against the best teams for a chance to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. But that’s not going to move forward after 2023 World Cupso again, a lot of players will be wondering what’s next.

Was cricket your first sport?
I was too young to play rugby, so cricket and tennis were my summer sports and hockey my winter sport. When I was 15, Trott’s father saw my potential and got me to play cricket. I then gave up hockey and played cricket all year. When I was 19, I was picked by the Cape Cobras for my first full year of professional cricket.

Conway came to New Zealand after you but qualified much earlier. How did it happen?
The visa I initially had only allowed me to work in New Zealand. It wasn’t until 2019 that I was able to upgrade to a talent visa, which, if you’re over three years, allows you to apply for residency. In March my residency was approved so New Zealand is my home now. I bought a house earlier this year. I have seen my career evolve by leaps and bounds. The system is great, the people are wonderful, there’s a great culture. In terms of my career and my future, it’s firmly rooted here.

Shashank Kishore is Senior Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo

#Michael #Rippon #spinner #Zealand #learn #play #holding #role

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.