From backyard to Black Caps, Adithya Ashok’s dream cricket journey
"I was genuinely shocked," Ashok says. "I was on my bed staring at the ceiling going, 'Oh my god, what just happened?'"
The 20-year-old has been selected for the Black Caps' upcoming tour to the United Arab Emirates and England later this month.
Ashok's journey to the national team began when he was just 5 years old, and he attributes his passion for the game to his father.
"He is the one that threw me balls in the backyard," he says. "I caught the bug and have had a massive passion for cricket since then."
This fervour has propelled him to his current position representing New Zealand.
"The opportunity to live out a childhood dream is really special," he says.
He started playing club cricket and eventually ended up with the New Zealand Under-19 World Cup squad in 2020.
After completing his first year after high school, Ashok received a professional contract offer from the Auckland Aces.
He spent two years with the Aces and is currently playing cricket in the United Kingdom.
"Currently, I'm with the Colchester and East Essex cricket club," Ashok says. "I'm absolutely loving my time here."
'Ticks all the boxes'
"I was never in doubt that he'd be able to go to the highest level," says Tony Sail, who has known Ashok since he was a young child.
Tom Sail has been mentoring Ashok since 2015. Photo: Supplied
Sail, director of cricket at Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland, has been mentoring and coaching Ashok since 2015.
Sail says Ashok's selection in the Black Caps is a culmination of dedication, hard work and talent.
He also highlighted Ashok's excellence both on the field and in the classroom.
"He ticks all the boxes," he says. "He's one of those guys that thrived on cricket and it's high time he gets to don that jersey."