Traditionally speaking, there isn’t an awful lot of positivism associated with #13. Perhaps it’s because the number is steeped in myth. Or maybe because, over the years, it has become something totemic.
There are always alleys and dungeons you don’t want to walk into. Things you don’t want to stare at. It’s one of those things.
Therefore, if there’s a number that’s quite reviled for being ‘unlucky’ or is associated with ‘bad omen,’ then it’s thirteen.
It’s not known to produce sublime results or things you’d otherwise remember for the ‘good.’
But all of that changes the moment you think of the figure in the context of the sport we’ve all come to love and adore: Cricket.
Thirteen is exactly the number of years for which a certain Brett Lee’s career lasted. It’s also the number of half-centuries the ‘Master’ of batting Sachin Tendulkar stroked against England in his Test career. As a matter of fact, no other bowler apart from the iconic Waqar Younis has taken thirteen fifers in ODI cricket, the most by any white-ball bowler.
Kieron Pollard hit thirteen fifties in his ODI journey for the West Indies that lasted for fifteen years.
But, is that all?
Could it be that 13 also holds special significance for an Associate nation and one of its key players? Not the sort of thing one would have pondered in great detail, right?
Truth be known, July 13, 2019 is a date Cricket Finland will never forget. But then nor will its current serving captain, Nathan Collins.
After all, it was July the thirteenth three years ago where Finland played their maiden T20 international.
The venerable ICC, keepers of the sport have chosen T20 as the preferred format to galvanise talent and widen the appeal of cricket especially among the up-and-coming teams.
It would turn out to be the format courtesy which Finland would get their first taste of international cricket. And while they’d experience agony immediately in their first assignment as an Associate nation, going down to Denmark by 1 run, none would feel the pain of losing more than Nathan Collins.
After dismissing Denmark for 117, a total you’d consider gettable and anything but out of reach for most teams, Finland all but made it.
But the man responsible for the lion’s share of runs was the Finnish captain Nathan Collins, who scored 53 off his team’s 116.
Five others in his side were dismissed for single-digit scores. But more importantly, Nathan Collins, who walked out to bat right at the start would be the last wicket to fall for a side that experienced mixed fortunes at Brondby.
Agony for coming so close to a win in their prized maiden international assignment and ecstacy for finally leaving a mark in international T20 cricket.
Though on his part, being the absolute team man that he is, Nathan Collins emerged as a figure of valiance in the aftermath of the contest; sticking by his mates and appreciating the wonderful spells by Md Nurul Huda and Aniketh Pusthay, the duo jointly responsible for half of the Danish wickets that fell on an unforgettable day.
There wasn’t much he reserved for hailing his lone vigil when that could so naturally have been the case. Forget not that in that contest, not a single batter from Denmark reached a fifty.
Interestingly, Nathan Collins, who has turned 38 on 13 May 2022, hasn’t changed all that much since.
Not the man you’d feel will dwell much on the importance-or the lack thereof of number 13- there’s so much on his plate that holds his attention.
There’s much to do, lots to plan for, and simultaneously, so much to look forward to where Finnish Cricket is concerned.
As captain of a team he rightly calls ‘truly multicultural,’ Nathan Collins has the key responsibility of shaping the current and the future of a team that is rapidly rising in the European cricket circuit.
This may not necessarily be an exceptionally easy task.
Along with the head selector of Finnish Bears, Mr. Matthew Jenkinson, Nathan Collins also has the responsibility of selecting the squad of the Bears team. Where it stands at the moment, the average age of the current side is 32.4 years, with nearly half the Finnish side over the age of 35, which includes Collins.
As a matter of fact, if you were to ignore Mohammad Asaduzzaman and Matias Brasier, aged 29 and 19 respectively, Nathan Collins has the task of introducing the tempo of youth to a side that, at present, has the excellent services of several who aren’t blossoming with the alacrity of youth.
It takes some amount of composure and integrity for to issue instructions to the likes of Aravind Mohan, Sapan Mehta, Amjad Sher, Peter Gallagher or a Mahesh Tambe, many of whom are about the same age as the serving Finnish captain.
And that is precisely where Nathan Collins excels as a leader, always putting himself to the service of his nation and always rallying behind his teammates whilst also leading by an example with the bat. Thus far, from 12 T20Is, the right-hander has already collected 319 runs with three fighting fifties. Something to be noted is that of his 319 white-ball international runs, 112 have come exclusively by way of boundaries.
Even that’s not all?
The dogged right-hander known for his penchant for playing strokeful, grounded shots is currently second on the list for most runs scored in the Finnish Premier League, having scored 387 from just fifteen outings with the bat, which also includes two fifties and three not outs.
For someone whose best days with the bat as also the captain of the Finnish side are ahead of him, how’s that for an impressive beginning?
Though, what must be duly said is that captaincy, which by self admission brings the best out of him, isn’t a brand new phenomenon for Nathan Collins; he were to don the captain’s hat in 2017 season.
It won’t be wrong to suggest that constantly building his game and developing his batting feature on the priority list of the simpleton who leads Finland with a penchant to excel, the one who simply loves to go out there and score his runs with rich aplomb.
While it wasn’t a headlining material for the cricketing world outside of Finland but Nathan Collins had played one of the most remarkable innings ever witnessed at the club level as a 32-year-old.
Back in 2016, he played the blazing knock of 97 vs Espoo CC at Kerava. It was the sort of inning that was looked up to and further cemented the belief that for as long as Finland could cultivate and encourage batters like Collins, there was no reason to doubt they had some exciting times ahead in their international cricketing journey.
Whilst he has played much of international T20 cricket against the likes of Denmark, Spain and Sweden, Collins along with his vice-captain Vanraaj Padhaal, is looking forward to the game going further big in the country that reserves special love for Rally racing, Makia and Sauna!
One of the biggest (confirmed) cricketing developments in the land where Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen are idols is that come 2024, Finland will be co-hosting the ICC 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup Europe Sub-Regional qualifiers alongside Belgium.
And there’s little reason to doubt that the batter most would be counting on to reap a season of rich harvest for a country considered among the world’s happiest- will be Nathan Collins.
The man who can lead the Scandinavian nation to greater triumphs in the course of the future, the person, who’s quite frankly, among the finest exports of Australia to Finland.