Playing with superstars wonderful experience

Michael Rippon
Michael Rippon
What do Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Otago wrist spinner Michael Rippon have in common?

They all played for the same team at the recent Global T20 in Canada.

Rippon received a surprise call-up for the Vancouver Knights and joined the likes of Gayle, Russell and Shoaib Malik in the squad.

''It is a long story,'' Rippon said when asked how the opportunity came about.

Actually, it is a little complicated. The South African-born all-rounder is of Dutch decent and had planned on playing for the Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers.

He is also a qualifying player for New Zealand and can only spend two months out of the country each year until he has qualified.

He was ''saving days'' to play for the Dutch but when he pulled out of that he was free to join the Global T20 tournament.

Rippon had watched it last year and put his name in the draft.

''Then I got a phone call from a mate the night before the draft and he said 'there is a very good chance you'll get picked up'.''

Rippon checked the live feed on social media early the next morning and heard his name called out.

Off to Canada he went and it was a wonderful experience for the 28-year-old.

''Obviously, we had a few superstars in our side and it was nice to see the way they go about their business and play the game. They are really humble guys.

''These are guys who have achieved everything in the game, you know.''

The Knights made the August 11 final and played the Winnipeg Hawks in what was a tense match. The Hawks made 192 for eight and took a firm grip on the game when they had reduced the Knights to 53 for four.

But Malik (64 off 36) and Russell (46 not from 20) rallied and almost did enough to win the game.

The game finished in a tie but the Hawks won the one-over eliminator to clinch the title.

''We got into such a great position after being in trouble,'' Rippon reflected.

''But the guys were amazing. They passed on their knowledge and contributed a lot in team meetings. It was a great experience and hopefully I can get back for season three.''

Rippon made his debut for Otago in 2017 and has enjoyed his share of success in the one-day tournament. In 21 games for his adopted province he has scored 643 runs at an average of 35.72 and taken 26 wickets at 34.69.

But Rippon struggled in the Plunket Shield last season. He took six wickets at 70.50.

''I've done a lot of work on my bowling and made quite a few changes. It is a good time to have a good hard look at your game. You don't really have time during the season to work on your game because you are playing matches.

''Hopefully, it pays off. I've been struggling in the four-day competition purely because I've had quite a lot of back strain which has been prohibiting me from bowling really long spells.

''So I'm just trying to make my action a lot more repeatable and a lot easier.''

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