Nannes chasing his dreams

2009-04-30 19:16
Dirk Nannes (AFP)
It's a safe bet to assume Dirk Nannes never in his wildest dreams thought he would be playing cricket in South Africa, let alone in an extravaganza filled with such mega-stars as the Indian Premier League.

But after setting up the Delhi Daredevils' victory over the top-of-the-log Deccan Chargers at SuperSport Park on Thursday with his left-arm, fast, swing bowling, the Australian has catapulted himself into the forefront of the cricketing world. It helps, of course, that his story is a truly fascinating one, involving skiing, the saxophone and Japanese.

The first question to answer is why the 32-year-old did not even come close to appearing in the recent gripping series between Australia and South Africa. He has never come close to selection for the Australian national team and, even if he continues to shine in the IPL, he will not be playing for Ricky Ponting's men in the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.

"I don't think I can be chosen for Australia for the T20 world cup because I wasn't in the preliminary squad of 30 that has already been named. But I'll be in the Holland squad because I have a Dutch passport through my parents.

"I never had any real aspirations to play international cricket, I just kind of fell into it. I always played in the backyard with my brother, but I was in the thirds at school and in the thirds at my club side," Nannes explained.

Nannes, who his Delhi captain Virender Sehwag describes as one of the fastest bowlers he has faced, made a sluggish start to his career as a cricketer mainly due to the fact that he was an accomplished skier. The Victorian travelled the world competing in World Cup skiing events, so he is an athlete in every sense of the word.

It was only once his skiing career ended that a previously hidden talent for cricket emerged.

"After skiing, someone said I should go to my local club and try and get a game in the park."

A flurry of wickets followed and "a couple of years later, someone said I should try to play first-class cricket" - and a first-class debut followed in 2005/6.

He was instrumental in Victoria winning Australia's domestic twenty20 title in 2007/8 and he enjoyed a stint with Middlesex last year before Daredevils coach Greg Shipperd, who also coaches Victoria, signed him up for the IPL.

Nannes has a place in the starting line-up thanks to the fact that fellow Australian Glenn McGrath is still struggling to get over the tragic fact that his wife died last year after a long fight with cancer.

"To play ahead of the best fast bowler in history is unbelievable, I have to pinch myself. But he's been fantastic, always offering me support and help. I wasn't expecting too much when I came here, so when I heard I was going to play in the first game I was really happy for the opportunity," Nannes said. "I was pretty happy to pick up Adam Gilchrist's wicket today!"

Nannes, who was a student of the saxophone at Melbourne University and admits to a passable mastery of speaking Japanese, said his dreams of being a fast bowler were restricted to the days he fell asleep on the couch with a piece of salami in his hand watching West Indian greats Curtley Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner rip through the Australian batting in the 1980s.

A phenomenal, heart-warming twist of fate means those dreams are now a reality in front of a television audience of millions.



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