Cricket: Rookie Rachin Ravindra savouring Blackcaps tour experience

Blackcaps newcomer Rachin Ravindra still shakes his head in disbelief on a daily basis, as he begins to learn the ropes on his first tour with the national side.

The 21-year-old all-rounder is one of two new faces in the Blackcaps' 20-strong test squad that recently touched down in the UK for their two-test series against England and World Test Championship final against India.

Ravindra got a taste of the Blackcaps environment during their recent two-week camp at Lincoln and while - so far - he's been consigned to room isolation at their hotel at the Ageas bowl in Southampton, he says the airport experience was surreal enough.

"I've definitely had to pinch myself a couple of times, that this is really happening," says Ravindra. "Seeing everyone in Blackcaps kit, and seeing guys I've idolised growing up and being able to rub shoulders with them.

"It's been a unique experience especially with COVID, but even in the airport, with such a world class team, I'm going to cherish every moment of it."

At the top of that list of idols is Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson, who has now joined the squad from India, via the Maldives, where he and a handful of fellow Kiwi players quarantined, after leaving the suspended Indian Premier League.

Ravindra hasn't yet had a chance to tap into the veteran batsman's fountain of knowledge, but the prospect alone has him abuzz with enthusiasm.

"Every single opportunity I have to mingle with him will be amazing," he says. "I can't even put it into words."

Williamson's "hunger for runs" is one habit he's eager to embed in his own approach to batting, Ravindra adds.

"It just looks like he wants to score a double hundred every time he goes out to bat and I admire that incredibly - the temperament to be able to do that and to win test matches for New Zealand.

"Also, the way he goes about it, such a humble bloke... he just personifies the good Kiwi man. Just being able to witness that in person is going to be amazing."

Realistic about his possibilities of cracking the playing XI, Ravindra insists he'll soak up every lesson he can, whether selected or not.

While his batting record speaks for itself - with an average just under 39 runs and three first-class centuries through his 26 matches for Wellington Firebirds - he knows the development of his left-arm spin is where he can truly add unique value for the Blackcaps.

"I've just been listening to all of the coaches and bouncing ideas off everyone helps a lot," he says. 

"It's definitely a balance for me, but everyone's so willing to help that it makes my job a lot easier."

In a few days, the Blackcaps will be able to leave their rooms to begin training in small pods.

Until then, Ravindra will stay busy studying the opposition, getting up a sweat via team Zoom fitness sessions, and beating up his teammates, as the self-proclaimed team champion of NBA 2k21 and FIFA 21.

"Daryl Mitchell actually poses quite a good challenge, Tom Blundell never does."

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