Meet Arjun Nair, an Indian-origin off-spinner who is making waves in the New South Wales cricket scene with a mean carrom ball, a never-say-die attitude, and a single-minded vision toward making a career out of what has so far been a backyard hobby. Read on to find out more about him.

Ever since the retirement of a certain blonde tubby leg spinner, Australia has been on the lookout for the next great spin bowler. Nathan Lyon has been performing the task admirably in the last few years, but followers of Australian cricket are looking at the young teenagers coming through in order to predict who will make it in the years to come.

Among these, the name of Arjun Nair seems to be topping most lists.

If you haven’t heard of him, don’t worry. If the words of Greg Chappell are anything to go by, you will pretty soon. Nair made his first class debut for New South Wales earlier this year at the age of 17 years and 319 days. He is still driven around by dad Jay Nair (because he doesn’t have his license yet), he is juggling a prospective career in cricket with a business degree from the university of West Sydney, and he bowls a mean carrom ball.

The carrom ball is a type of delivery that modern off-spinners have developed as a defence mechanism against big bats and small grounds. Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis first bowled it in public. India’s Ravi Ashwin and West Indies’ Sunil Narine are the two most prolific exponents of the delivery in current cricket. It’s a difficult ball to bowl, requiring the bowler to flick the ball out between his thumb and middle finger, and when bowled right a carrom ball could make the ball spin either way after pitching. So where did Arjun Nair learn to bowl the carrom ball?

Like most guys his age, the answer is YouTube.

He says that he watched Sunil Narine at the IPL on YouTube, tried the delivery in his backyard, and after practising it for a period of two years and a bit, he says it’s ‘coming out well’ now.

Though he’s an off-spinner who bats a bit now, Nair started life as a batsman who bowled spin for a bit of fun in the nets. Then he switched over to off-spin because of his love of the carrom ball, and now he’s reached a stage where he can lay claims to being a pretty respectable number eight in the New South Wales side.

However, Greg Chappell, who acknowledges his talent, is quick to point out how competitive it is to make it as a professional cricketer in Australia. Whether it is the Big Bash or the national side, finger spinners have often been considered journeymen in this country, and unless Nair develops his batting and fielding to the point where the overall package is undeniably attractive, it might be tough for him to get where he wants.

But that doesn’t faze Nair. By all accounts, he is a young man who is besotted with the sport, and spends all of his free time thinking about it or practising it.

We wish Arjun the very best with everything, both on the field and off it.

Gaurav Malhotra

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