Dirk Nannes was every bit what someone wanting to be a cricketer shouldn’t be. Growing up, he had no ambition of becoming a cricketer, was small, bony and slow. Nannes got big time into other sport — he represented Australia in the skiing World Cup and missed out on the Olympics by a whisker — and took to cricket seriously only after he was 25.
At 32, he’s playing for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League and he spoke to HT about what it means to him. Excerpts:
At 25, didn’t it occur to you that probably it was too late for you to make a mark in cricket?
I had never thought of becoming a cricketer in the first place. In my school, I couldn’t go beyond the third XI until the final year, when I finally made it to the first XI. I had never really played much of cricket, so there wasn’t any pressure of succeeding in the sport.
You represent Australia in skiing. Was it tough to give it up for cricket?
No, it wasn’t. Actually I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t make it to the Olympics and the next Olympics were four years away. I had actually given up competitive skiing much earlier than I started playing serious cricket. Nonetheless, I still ski as I run a skiing travel company.
Skiing and cricket are sports poles apart. But still, did being a skier did help you in your cricket?
I did a lot of gym for strength while I was skiing. And that’s why I can bowl as quick as I do now. Besides, the fact that I came into cricket with a strong and mature body helped me avoid the injuries like stress factures that bowlers have. And the fact that I haven’t bowled many overs makes me look quite fresh and fit even at 32.
Now that your talent is being recognised, do you wish that you had started cricket earlier?
Absolutely not. I am very happy with the choices I have made. I have had some fantastic experiences and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world.
What does it mean to get picked over Glenn McGrath?
Well, it’s something I’ll tell my kids someday with lot of pride. Coming into the tournament, I never thought I would get a game unless someone was injured or unavailable. And here I am, getting picked ahead of McGrath…it’s just an amazing feeling.
How does McGrath view this situation?
It was actually strange for me to understand why I was getting a game ahead of him. But McGrath was fantastic about all this. He just told me that I could walk up to him anytime if I needed to discuss something.