Essex v India and Nijjar cannot wait for the game to start!
PUBLISHED: 19:23 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:23 24 July 2018
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When Essex's fixture against the touring Indians was announced back in November, Aron Nijjar wrote on Twitter: "Never been so excited in my life," writes Martin Smith.
On the eve of the game, which starts at Chelmsford tomorrow morning, the left-arm spinner admitted the feeling had not dissipated.
“I was very excited at the prospect to begin with,” he said. “Now it’s only just around the corner, and seeing them out their training on the ground makes it more real. I’m really excited to be getting out there against them.
“I don’t think there is any better experience in cricket than playing the No1 side in the world. It should be great fun.”
The Test-series warm-up, which had already been stripped of first-class status when the Indians requested that all members of their 18-man squad be able to participate at some point, was yesterday reduced to a three-day affair, Wednesday to Friday, following another request apparently in view of the current high temperatures.
That will not faze the 23-year-old Nijjar. One-day, four-days, three-days, he is particularly looking forward to the opportunity to pit his skills against world No1 batsman Virat Kohli. Not least because the Indian captain showed a hitherto unsuspected susceptibility to spin bowling when England’s Adil Rashid produced a wonderball to bamboozle him in a one-day international last week.
“I haven’t had a look at the wicket yet to see what it’s going to do,” Nijjar said.
“But I’d like to think I could get as lucky as Rashid did because you don’t often see Kohli get out that much to spin. But I guess it does show that it can happen if you bowl the right delivery.”
Tomorrow’s match had been ringed in red on the calendar in the Nijjar household for months. Goodmayes-born Aron is half-English, half-Indian (English mother, Indian father) and he expects huge support at The Cloudfm County Ground over the next three days from his extended family, including his grandparents. “I think everyone will be excited if I’m playing,” he said.
“When I was younger the players I looked up to, it was more like Yuvraj Singh (a left-handed batsman and slow left-arm bowler, just like Nijjar). Then there were the classic batsmen like Laxman, Javed and Tendulkar. Bowling-wise it probably would have been (one-time Essex spinner) Harbhajan Singh.
“But I’m quite excited to see how Ashwin and Jadeja bowl, they are the ones I’ve followed more closely in terms of technical stuff going forward. I’ve studied their footage. But, as I say, of anyone in the present team I’ve most excited to see is Kohli – as I assume most people are!
“With the Indians I’ve always had a fascination, and enjoying watching, when the spinners came on. I particularly enjoy their attacking nature. Spin bowling is my craft and I take every opportunity to learn more about it.”
Nijjar, who is currently contracted to Essex to the end of 2018, has been an integral part in the success of the 2nd XI this summer. He has taken 44 wickets across the three formats as the ‘seconds’ lead the southern section of the County Championship with high hopes of making September’s final against the northern winners.
He spent the winter playing for Doutta Stars in Melbourne where he shared the Victoria League;s player of the year award with 28 wickets at 17.39 and 614 runs at 43.86, including best performances of five for 60 and 146 not out.
“I’m a big believer in there being no substitute for match practice,” he said, “so I had to take the opportunity to get away in the winter. You can train as much as you like indoors, but if you can get away and try and improve your game, you definitely should. I feel that both my batting and bowling came on really well, and that has shown this season.
“I’ve taken four five-fers this year [including 10 wickets in a match for the first time, at Uxbridge against Middlesex two weeks ago]. It is all coming together at the right time for me. Hopefully I can impress in this game and push on and get some games towards the back-end of the season in the four-day stuff when the pitches are turning.”