By SALONEE MISTRY
Being able to play for cricket clubs in both India and Australia is living the dream for 28-year-old Indian Akshay Ballal.
When he was 10 his family moved to Bengaluru for him to get the right kind of coaching to become a cricketer.
From there, he went on to represent his state and was named the captain of the Under-25 Kerala state team. He also played was a part of the senior state team for the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
When a friend recommended him to the North Dandenong Cricket Club, Ballal was introduced to a whole new side of cricket.
“The cricket atmosphere in India and Australia is very different,” Ballal said.
“I am used to playing about six games a week when in India but the number drastically drops when in Australia.”
Ballal started playing for the Dandenong Club in October 2018 and has played 21 matches to date. The coaching in Australia is also extremely different, the right-handed batsman and right-arm off-break bowler said.
“The focus when teaching in India is on technique from the start, while in Australia at Level 1, they will just ask you to hit the ball,” Ballal said.
“When it comes to bowling, because of the flat wicket, there is a lot more swing for the fast bowlers as well.”
The pitch, coupled with the climate conditions in Melbourne, make playing here a completely different experience.
Ballal also pointed out the difference in the team culture.
“In Australia, once the players are off the field, they have forgotten about the win or loss and start concentrating over the next one,” he said.
“In India, on the other hand, the team will for a while contemplate and mull over a win or loss to try and decipher what went wrong were or what they did right.
“Although not very different from each other in their end goal – which is for the teams to do better in the next game – the approach makes a world of difference.”
The young cricketer’s role models among many others is are Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rahul Dravid.
Playing cricket for more than a decade now, Ballal said every game teaches you a lesson and there is always something to learn.
“I started playing young and want to build a career in it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Ballal said.
“With cricket whether you are playing in India or for a club in Melbourne, you need to give it your everything. You forget everything else with the rush of being on field and that is unbeatable,” he said.
The young cricketer has played matches alongside well-known cricketers such as KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, both who have played for the Indian national team.
Ballal is currently playing for the Belagavi Panthers as a part of the Karnataka Premier League when in India.
He dreams of playing for the Indian cricket team someday and practices hard every day for it, with all his focus on the end goal.