Child wants to emulate former teammate Southee’s league success
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A fine wicketkeeper but hardly a handy lower-order bat, a 15-year-old student from Auckland's Kings College soon gave up on his cricketing ambitions and returned to doing what he was he did best: playing hockey. One year later, Simon Child made his New Zealand debut, went onto become New Zealand's youngest player to reach the 100-match mark, and, at 24, is on his way to be the country's most-capped, having already played 178 games.
"I first picked up a hockey stick at four. My mother played for New Zealand between 1979-84. My father was part of the New Zealand under-21 team. I have been playing the game for the last 20 years, it's consumed my life," says the forward. "But I have enjoyed every bit of it."
Around the same time when Child was dabbling in cricket at high school, he befriended a tall, tearaway who was creating a buzz in Auckland's school cricket circle. Three years later, at 18, he made his New Zealand debut. Today Tim Southee is the country's premier pace bowler, and one of the best in the world.
"Tim and I go back a long way when we were playing our cricket at King's College eight years ago. I was a decent wicket-keeper, but never scored more than 30. Cricket is a demanding sport, and back then the competition was very tough. It wasn't like now. Anyone can make it to the current national team now (laughs, referring to 45 all out against South Africa recently). After that I focussed completely on hockey," he says.
Child now aims to do for his team Delhi Waveriders (owned by Wave Group) in Hockey India League what Southee did for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League — win the title. "When Tim came back after winning the IPL, he told me this interesting story that his team, Chennai, won two million in prize money and the team owner decided to give away another two million from his pocket. Pretty cool. We'll also try to win some prize money, though I don't think it's anywhere near as the IPL."