Cricket: Hired gun hot shot hitter

Ryan ten Doeschate is a candidate for the world's premier freelance cricketer - and the sport's most travelled man.

Born in South Africa but emerging as a Dutch international, ten Doeschate has played international or Twenty20 franchise cricket in every test-playing country except Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He has also represented the Netherlands at home as well as in Kenya, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

As a cricketing gun for hire, the 32-year-old's passport must look like James Bond's working for Universal Exports. Ten Doeschate has become his own universal export.

His dossier has seen him play in World Cups, the Indian Premier League (with Kolkata), Australia's Big Bash (Tasmania), in England (Essex) and Zimbabwe (Mashonaland). He will play for Chittagong in the Bangladesh Premier League which starts this month.

Ten Doeschate - pronounced ten-da-SCAR-tuh - is dominating the HRV Cup with Otago, who top the table heading into today's full round of matches. He is familiar to New Zealand fans as the most valuable player from the 2010-11 HRV Cup when his middle-order batting and medium-pace bowling helped Canterbury to third. Fitting into different cultures is an important part of his brief.

"I used to put too much pressure on myself as an overseas player," ten Doeschate says. "I've learnt to try to treat myself as a local player so I'm not overburdening myself. Getting on well in a team helps.

"I'm purely success-driven. Travel was initially a massive incentive to play in different places but it becomes wearisome. Now it's about the challenge of winning matches with good people. Otago have made me feel welcome."

Ten Doeschate has repaid the province's faith. Otago has won every game since his arrival. After four games, he was already fourth on the HRV Cup MVP table.

Wellington's Jesse Ryder and Northern Districts' Anton Devcich and Scott Styris are above him; they had each played seven games. Ten Doeschate has hit three half-centuries, 47 and 26 in four innings at an average of 64.75 and strike rate of 165. He has taken three wickets, striking every 16 balls with an economy rate of 7.12.

He relishes the regular game time: "I didn't have a particularly good English summer, didn't play much in the IPL and didn't play in the Champions League. At Otago, I knew I was going to get nine games in a team with a good chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

"Still, I've enjoyed 10 seasons with Essex [qualifying as a local using his Dutch/European Union passport] and the IPL is an incredible experience [where he was the first player signed from an associate or affiliate nation].

"Not playing in the IPL is one thing, but you've got to be philosophical when you see the quality of those ahead of you. I made a conscious effort to put that thought aside and enjoy it. Being in the thick of things - backroom staff and owners included - is a memory I won't forget.

"I'm pigeonholed mainly as a T20 big-hitting middle order batsman but that's the way cricket has gone in the last six to seven years. That is the type of player most teams need."

Ten Doeschate grew up in Western Province. He was born in Port Elizabeth, went to school at Fairbairn College near Cape Town and played rugby as a first five-eighths at South Africa's oldest club, Hamiltons.

His background meant he also played cricket with South Africa's player of the moment, Vernon Philander, who, at 27, is five years his junior. Ten Doeschate has sympathy for the New Zealand batsmen who succumbed to Philander's nagging line and length in the first test at Cape Town.

"It wasn't a typical Newlands pitch and that was an exceptional bowling spell," ten Doeschate says.

"We played in a few teams through the Western Province grades. He was coming on to the scene as I was leaving. He was still at school.

"There were some big write-ups on him but I don't think anyone would have guessed he'd become the bowler he has.

"Even four to five years ago in English county cricket [for Middlesex], he wasn't as deadly as now. He has become the best seam bowler in test cricket through the old-fashioned method of hitting his line and length and seaming the ball around. You don't see too many opening bowlers bowling at less than 140km/h these days and taking that many wickets.

"However, I think with the issues going on around the New Zealand team, it was going to be tough regardless. I feel sorry for everyone; that's nightmare stuff."

- By Andrew Alderson

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