Sanjay Ramakrishnan with Ravichandran Ashwin Image Credit: East Sports Management Cricket Academy

Dubai: Sanjay Ramakrishnan, a budding 15-year-old school cricketer from Dubai, is picking the brains of the game’s best off spinner these days.

The Grade 10 student at the Kings’ School Al Barsha will be in Chennai early next month for a second round of training with Ravichandran Ashwin at the star’s own Gen-Next Cricket Institute.

Speaking to Gulf News, Ramakrishnan said: “I started off as a pacer from the age of eight in 2010 but after watching Ashwin in action, I wanted to be an off spinner like him.

"When Ashwin came to Dubai (in December to conduct a coaching clinic for East Sports Management (ESM) Cricket Academy) I got invited to train at Gen-Next in February. My first stint was in February before Ashwin played in the India-Australia series and the next session with him will be in May.”

As Ashwin has opted out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) due to a hernia problem, the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year will attend to Ramakrishnan again before he flies out to play in the Champions Trophy. “To be able to get tips from my idol was special. I learnt a lot about off spin, not only grip, the importance of run up and follow through. The various tricks he has given me to practice are enlightening.”

Ramakrishnan was granted permission by Kings’ School as he is on the cricket scholarship of the school.

Talking about the experience in Chennai, Ramakrishnan said: “It was a two weeks stint starting with drills to increase my agility. Ashwin stressed on the importance of adaptability to gain the right level of temperament.

"The tips to maintain line and length were special. I had to bowl at least a given number of deliveries on a thread at the good length spot. I had to also bowl between two steel rods. All has helped my accuracy,” said Ramakrishnan, who has also been told to practice in front of a mirror.

In Ramakrishnan’s first match on return to Dubai for Kings XI school against Dubai International Academy, he took three wickets for 11 runs from his three overs. Kobus Olivier, who organised the Ashwin’s coaching camp in Dubai, had been coaching Ramakrishnan at the Kings’ School.

“The tips from Ashwin made me realise that nothing comes without dedication and determination. Gen-Next coaches P. Sreenivasan and Santosh have been very helpful.

"From this experience I have learnt that hard work, continuous practice and on and off field discipline are vital for success,” said Ramakrishnan, who is busy getting fitter for intense training and more tips from his idol.