FORMER Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team player Ryan Burl, widely regarded as one the country’s most promising young prospects, has set his sights on a successful cricket career after recently quitting university in the United Kingdom to pursue his dream.
The 20-year-old spinning all-rounder recently returned home from the UK where he was playing club cricket while also studying at Southampton Solent University.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday, Burl, who represented the country at two Under-19 Cricket World Cups, said opting for cricket over university was an obvious choice for him as he had always wanted to be a cricketer.
“The reason I went over to England was to play some cricket overseas and gain some useful experience and to take a short break from Zimbabwe as I had just finished school,” he said.
“While playing cricket there, I got offered a scholarship at university so I thought great this is a good opportunity to gain a degree and get some papers. However, I have always wanted to play cricket as a career, and being at university I wasn’t able to do both. So I decided to come here and pursue my dream,” said Burl.
Prior to his departure for the UK, Burl — a hard-hitting left-handed batsman and a useful leg spinner — was a key figure of the national Under-19 team.
The former Peterhouse College student played at two Under-19 Cricket World Cups in Australia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) before leaving for the UK.
One of the major highlights of his Under-19 career was scoring three consecutive half centuries against Australia Under-19, the first two (79 not-out and 74) during a tri-series in India and 60 in the UAE.
“Scoring runs is always nice. But scoring runs consistently is really special — so obviously it was a good feeling especially when one of them really mattered in a win over Australia.
“Playing in two Under-19 World Cups was even more special. It’s something I’ll remember forever but I want to go further and use that as a stepping stone going forward. Playing against all the up and coming youngsters of international cricket is amazing as you they are really quality players looking to make a name for themselves! And it’s also nice because it’s a good opportunity to make friends as I’m sure I’ll end up seeing or playing against a few in the future.
Burl, who credits his grandfather Basil Petersen for his early influence on him when he was learning the sport has represented Zimbabwe in all age group teams from the Under-14s.
“My biggest cricket influence I would say is my grandfather – he taught me cricket since I was 3 years old. Playing in the garden every afternoon with my brother (Colin) he would sit on the veranda and coach us till it got dark,” said Burl.
After missing out on selection to the Zimbabwe A currently touring Bangladesh Burl’s immediate task will be to break into one of the four franchise teams ahead of the upcoming domestic season.