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Aaron William Benjamin on cricket in Sri Lanka, Botswana & the UAE

Born in Sri Lanka, Aaron William Benjamin is a 20-year-old cricketer who has achieved accolades in cricket as he grew up in Botswana. Currently residing in the UAE, Benjamin played for the UAE U-19 cricket team, penned a book and plans to play first class cricket in Sri Lanka.

Sportageous caught up with him to talk about his passion for the game, opportunities for cricket in the UAE, being a fast bowler and much more.

Aaron William Benjamin on the field.
Aaron William Benjamin on the field. Source: Supplied

Kinza Tahir: Tell us about yourself outside of cricket, your likes and interests.

Aaron William Benjamin: I personally love to play all sports. Be it basketball or tennis. I just love to have fun with my friends.

Additionally, I love to write and use my free time to complete my essays and assignments for university.

You were part of the Botswana Under-15 national cricket team. How did that come into play?

My parents moved out of Sri Lanka in 2001 and went to Botswana for work. Therefore, I was brought up for the first 15 years of my life in Botswana.

I was 13, when I debuted for the Botswana Under 15 team as a result of playing well in the local age group league matches.

How would you summarize your career in cricket?

To summarize my career in a few short words, I would have to say that my journey from “Sri Lanka to the UAE via Botswana” was uncanny however I wouldn’t change it for anything as the experiences that I’ve gained over the years have been unforgettable.

I think mental strength takes over physical ability when you are tired or are in a seemingly hopeless situation. In my experience, just a little bit of hope can take you a long way.

You have moved to the UAE and settled there. How does cricket in Botswana compare to UAE?

Cricket in the UAE is much more competitive as there are more people playing cricket here. Additionally, I had to get used to the conditions such as the heat and dryness of playing matches in the summer.

READ:In conversation with Charvi Bhatt: Former captain of the UAE Women’s cricket team

What has been the highlight of your career and why?

The highlight of my career so far would be my debut U-19 international wickets. As they were the wickets of the Indian U-19 captain and vice-captain which happened in 2018 at the Asia Cup.

Tell us about your book “Benjamin: the 8000 Mile Cricket Journey”. Did you always have a plan to be a published author? What were the challenges that you faced as you penned the book?

Its honestly quite an interesting story. Initially, a couple of friends were asking me about my journey and after telling them the details, they were certain that it would make for a compelling book.

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After a bit of hesitation, I started writing up a manuscript and in a matter of weeks I had finished writing about my life’s journey from the age of 8 till 19. A few weeks later I submitted the draft to Amazon publishing.

To my surprise they gave me a contract and were interested in publishing my Autobiography. As an A-Level English student, it was rather easy to spill my thoughts onto the page.

However, one problem that occurred was the copyrighting of images that I had used. Nonetheless, a few friends helped me overcome this and the book has been quite a success in its own right.

Aaron William Benjamin with the bat.
Aaron William Benjamin with the bat. Source: Supplied

How does mental strength play a key role in determining the success of a player?

I think mental strength takes over physical ability when you are tired or are in a seemingly hopeless situation. In my experience, just a little bit of hope can take you a long way.

As hope stems from mental toughness, it can be the key to victory in any situation.

Which athletes do you look up to and why?

At the moment, I look up to Jofra Archer and the young Usain Bolt. The reason for this is that both of them were seen as prodigies when they were young.

Though having rough starts to their careers, they came back stronger and overcame the obstacles. This strikes me as an incredible display of determination and grit so I try to emulate their characters as much as I can.

What is the perception of cricket in Botswana? How has cricket evolved there?

Cricket in Botswana is not really popular as the national sport is football.

Nonetheless, there are some really talented players in the country and it seems that the game is evolving and growing at a healthy rate in terms of available talent.

You have played with the UAE under-19 cricket team as well. How do you think youngsters can develop their game in order to play internationally?

I reckon they should not think too much about their opponents but rather focus on the job they have to do.

This kind of a mindset is what will truly take you all the way to the top as if you dwell on who your opponent is, you’re more likely than not going to underperform as you’re thinking about their name and their past performances.

Being brought up in a Sri Lankan household and community was amazing for my cricket. Being surrounded by those who absolutely love the game really motivated me to play cricket at such a level.

How has growing up in a Sri Lankan family played a key role for you to pursue cricket? When will you be playing for their national team?

Being brought up in a Sri Lankan household and community was amazing for my cricket. Being surrounded by those who absolutely love the game really motivated me to play cricket at such a level.

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If given the opportunity to play in Sri Lanka, I surely would accept it and then it’s just a matter of time till I would hope to see an opportunity to break through.

Being a fast bowler is unusual in UAE. How did you manage to make your place amongst your teammates?

It was tough as first. Trying to understand how the conditions can play in your favor. However, I just wanted to bowl fast, and my coaches pushed me to becoming the fastest in the country.

Therefore, being the fastest bowler in the country helped me stand out amongst my age mates.

READ: Abdullah Ghazi: The life of a domestic cricketer in the UAE

What kind of platforms does cricket in UAE need to develop opportunities for cricketers?

Junior contracts would play a big role. The reason for this is that after the U-19 level, the youth are inclined to study abroad, so such an incentive would surely be one way to retain players in the UAE.

What are your goals regarding cricket for the future?

I have a few opportunities to play first class cricket in Sri Lanka. So if everything works out that would definitely be an option alongside my university degree.

What advice would you give to upcoming players?

I would like to tell anyone who is pursuing any sport to keep grinding for results. The harder you work, the more you will ultimately achieve.

Even if you are an underdog in a situation, your hard work will be what helps you to stand out among the rest.

Any other words you would like to add?

I would like to thank Sportageous for this wonderful opportunity and I hope to chat with you again soon.


Follow Aaron William Benjamin on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For more cricket related content, visit Sportageous.
You can follow Kinza Tahir here on Twitter.

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