Ambidextrous spinner ready for U19 Cup

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  • Nivethan Radhakrishnan
    Australian cricketer

Come the early hours of Saturday morning (AEDT), cricket fans will get to witness a rare bowling sight at the U19 cricket World Cup in ambidextrous Australian spinner Nivethan Radhakrishnan.

Chennai-born before moving to Sydney at age 10, Radhakrishnan has been bowling finger spin both right and left handed, since being encouraged by his father to do so at age six.

Contracted to Tasmania, Delhi's IPL net bowler will play his first under-19s World Cup game for Australia against hosts West Indies.

Australia's path to the tournament has been far from easy.

They have been unable to hold an under-age carnival or full camp for two years.

They even had an extra day's quarantine in the Caribbean, after four false-positives in the group before a warm-up loss to India.

But players and officials are still confident.

Perth wicketkeeper Cooper Connolly will captain the team, after hitting a century in the warm-up game.

"We've got such a well-rounded squad," Radhakrishnan told AAP.

"The conditions really don't matter.

"Because whatever is thrown up at us, we've got the best combination of players to attack that particular day."

Radhakrishnan is likely to play a key role.

He batted at No.3 in the warm-up game, and then offering a special variation with his bowling depending on the state of the game and batsman.

"The more you change it up, the more chances of survival you have (on batting wickets)," Radhakrishnan said.

"It's not just random.

"I try to use my knowledge of my own bowling and what I can tell about the batter.

"When a batter plays one way I visualise this could culminate into something specific in a couple of overs time if I do this."

After favouring his right hand growing up, he now believes he has reached equal ability with both arms.

Worldwide there are few other examples of truly ambidextrous spinners, with the WBBL's Jemma Barsby the only other in Australia.

But Radhakrishnan warns it is not an easy skill to develop, maintaining it was only possible for him because he started at such a young age.

"Once you're into your teens, even mentally you are a bit closed off," Radhakrishnan said.

"Even by the time I was 12, I was very, very good with my left arm. I was almost as good as with my right.

"I definitely don't think I would be where I am now (if I only started bowling ambidextrously as a teenager).

"I reckon I would have been a right-arm off spinner for Australia under-19s and maybe left-arm orthodox in Tasmanian second grade."

Radhakrishnan will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Australia U19 spinner Lloyd Pope, who took 8-35 in the 2018 U19 quarter-final against England.


Jan 15: v West Indies, 1am AEDT

Jan 18: v Sri Lanka, 1am AEDT

Jan 20: v Scotland 1am AEDT

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