New Delhi: They have the same skill sets and both are integral to the the New Zealand team but all-rounder Jimmy Neesham knows that his "friend" Corey Anderson is already in the big league even as he tries to carve his own niche in international cricket.
Asked about a rivalry with his contemporary, Neesham sets the record straight. "Corey is a 'Big Money' player for Mumbai Indians while I am a 'Part Player' here in Delhi. We will certainly have a healthy banter as to who performs well for our respective teams in this edition of Indian Premier League," Neesham told PTI during an interaction after Delhi Daredevils' practice session.
Talking about Anderson, who now holds the world record for the fastest century in ODIs, Neesham said, "We have spent a lot of time together -- me and Corey coming through the age-group system.
"We have now played a World Cup (ICC World T20) together. Definitely, there is healthy competition with him. We are both only 23 and we have a long way to go in our careers as we fight for the same spot or play alongside."
Neesham fancies himself as more of a bowling all-rounder although his role changes with conditions.
"My role changes with conditions but I reckon myself more as a bowling all-rounder. Considering the conditions over here, I have a lot of change-ups to offer in terms of change of pace. I hope that my batting also comes along well so that I can make a good contribution with the bat as well," the Otago-based cricketer said.
"As a T20 bowler, if you are bowling at the start when the ball is hard, the idea is to hit the right areas. Once you have to come at the death, the batsmen will also start improvising and one needs to be smarter. "The change of pace and subtle variations come into effect at that point of time. In terms of batting, I am still trying to develop a technique of my own which will help me progress as an international cricketer."
Asked who he turns to for advice, Neesham took legendary Sir Richard Hadlee's name.
"I speak to Sir Richard Hadlee seeking his technical advice. I also like to pick the brains of our national coach Mike Hesson, who has been of huge help while shaping up my international career," Neesham said.
The 23-year-old had a memorable Test debut when he scored a hundred against India in Wellington, which was a match-saving effort alongside skipper Brendon McCullum's triple ton.
"The India series went very well as we were able to beat one of the world's best teams 4-0 (in the ODIs) in our own backyard. It was an unexpected win for the New Zealand public. It was fantastic to have that sort of performance against Indian players which gives you confidence when you come here to play alongside them."
For Neesham, his experience of representing New Zealand A against India A and Otago Volts in the Champions League Twenty20 has been of great help in understanding the sub-continental pitches. "I have a fair idea about how the wicket behaves in this part of the world as I have played a lot of games in the last one and half years for New Zealand A and Otago Volts. Also I have played for the Black Caps in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I kind of have an idea as to what areas to hit on these tracks," Neesham said with confidence.
The Daredevils will play their first match at Sharjah against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 17. Any wicket he would like to target if he gets the nod in the playing XI? "Well, any wicket that takes us closer to victory will be valuable but Virat Kohli has been the most impressive batsman in world cricket for some time now. It will be great if I get a chance to play and get Virat. About Chris Gayle, well, we will get around to that as we come closer to the game," the all-rounder added. (IPL schedule)
Someone who always keeps tracks of All Blacks' performance, he is very happy to meet Kevin Pietersen calling him a "funny man". "It's been good to get along with the group and start meeting all the lads. KP is a fantastic bloke. An extremely funny man and I hope that we would do well."