Date posted: 3/03/2017 3 min read

CA above average for Black Caps batsman

New Zealand cricketer Jeet Raval is thrilled to be playing Test cricket for New Zealand, but he has already begun the accountancy career he’ll pursue when it’s time to put down his bat.

In brief

  • Indian-born Black Cap cricketer Jeet Raval emigrated to New Zealand with his family at age 16.
  • The Auckland-based 28 year old was selected for New Zealand’s national cricket team in 2016.
  • Raval plans to work towards his CA designation once his professional playing days are over. He has worked part-time in accountancy roles during cricket’s off season.

Indian-born Black Cap cricketer Jeet Raval has come a long way since arriving in New Zealand at age 16 with no English and a bad case of culture shock.

Having grown up in “cricket mad” India, where he likens the sport to a religion, the Auckland-based 28 year old describes being selected for New Zealand’s national team last year as “a dream come true”.

“It’s something you get out of bed dreaming of every morning and then it really happens – you pinch yourself.”

But despite being a professional cricketer, Raval has another dream he wants to pursue. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland, majoring in accounting and commercial law and plans to work towards his CA designation once his professional playing days are over.

It’s becoming more common for professional cricketers to plan “back up careers”.

For the past three years he has worked part-time in accountancy roles during cricket’s off season – April to September – at BDO on Auckland’s North Shore. The role will remain open for when he’s ready to return, but Raval hopes that won’t be too soon.

“Then people at work will know I am not doing too well in cricket,” he jokes.

Raval says it’s becoming more common for professional cricketers to plan “back up careers”.

“With cricket being a performance sport, things don’t go your way all the time, so it’s good if you have something to fall back on.”

Work/sport balance

Raval considers himself fortunate to make a living doing something he loves, but admits it has been a juggle managing his cricket and work commitments.

“It’s a difficult task because in the winter months even though you’re not playing any cricket, there’s lots of training to be done. There’s lots of gym work and practice sessions.”

Good time management is vital, as are motivation and dedication. Raval is driven by his love of the sport.

“I’ve always enjoyed the skill side of cricket. It’s a really technical game and a lot of tactics are involved. And it’s a mental game, so you’re seeing the strategies and coming out on top.”

Start of play

Born in Gujarat in western India, Raval started playing cricket when he was six years old.

“Cricket was in my blood – playing in the backyard or in the street with my friends and my cousins.”

From an early age he dreamed of representing India. So as a teenager playing age group cricket, he was not happy when his parents decided to move to New Zealand, a country he knew little about.

“All I was told was it was a very small country and people live very far from each other – especially coming from India where you’re crammed in,” he laughs.

Raval tried unsuccessfully to persuade his parents to emigrate without him.

At first, he hated life in New Zealand.

“In the beginning it was a struggle.”

He didn’t speak any English and couldn’t understand his teachers or classmates at Auckland’s Avondale College, spending evenings translating words he’d heard to try and make sense of what people were saying.

“It was completely different for me, completely foreign in terms of the language, the culture, the weather.”

But cricket was a constant, he says, crediting his involvement in the sport with helping him learn English and feel more at home in his new country.

NZ opportunities

Prior to emigrating, Raval’s father had spent time in New Zealand getting a feel for the country and investigating opportunities. This included looking into cricket opportunities for his son. While working in a service station, he asked a man who came in wearing a cricket jumper whether he could help his son get into cricket.

“Cricket was in my blood – playing in the backyard or in the street with my friends and my cousins.”
Jeet Ravel New Zealand Test cricketer

By chance, the man was Sri Lankan-born Kit Parera, who came to New Zealand as a professional cricketer in 1985 and stayed on, establishing a coaching career.

Parera agreed to view Raval, liked what he saw, and guided him in the right direction.

“He put me in touch with the cricket club here [in Auckland] and with the right school where I could play cricket with the first XI cricket team.”

Raval began taking his cricket more seriously as he realised his own potential and the opportunities sporting success could bring. And over time, he came to believe that life in New Zealand might just work out.

This is an excerpt from a feature interview with Jeet Raval that will be published in the forthcoming Apr/May 2017 issue of Acuity magazine. To read this story in full, keep an eye out for the Apr/May 2017 issue of Acuity magazine, which will be available from April 1. Raval will open the batting for the Black Caps Test squad that will face South Africa at Dunedin beginning Wednesday 8 March 2017.