‘People know what you can do, you just have to wait’: Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson is again back in the Indian T20 squad, for the three-match series against West Indies, hoping to end his wait for a return to international cricket. The 25-year-old Kerala batsman, considered among the rising players and even as a possible successor to MS Dhoni at one point, has had his highs and lows. But a successful IPL 2018 and a record double-century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year have brought him back into the selectors’ focus. Samson though says his only competition is with himself in this interview.
Are you placed perfectly to push for the keeper-batsman’s slot in the T20I team?
I do not know what is there for me in the future. I am ready for anything. I am open for any role which can be given to me.
How tough is it to compete with players like Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey purely as a batsman?
I do not like to compete with anyone. We all are in line to play for the same team. Instead of focussing on other players, I would like to focus on myself.
As a keeper-batsman, how tough does it get when picked as a batsman?
First of all you need to be happy you have got picked finally, and you are there in the set-up. People know what all you can do. You just have to wait for your time.
There is a perception you don’t regularly keep wicket.
That is both right and wrong. Our state team coach Dav Whatmore decides who should keep wicket. Whenever he wants me to keep, I do. I don’t tell him ‘if I keep I can get selected in the Indian team, so please let me keep wicket’. It is not about me choosing what to do.
Do you fancy your chance as keeper-batsman in next year’s T20 World Cup?
India will be one of the biggest contenders for winning the World Cup. I am not thinking about it, I have somehow made it to the team and would like to first play a match and see how it goes.
Given your performances for Rajasthan Royals last year, would you say things started to change from there?
I think mainly it was after the Vijay Hazare Trophy. I got a period of 2-3 months when I did not play any cricket. That time really helped me to come back in a very good way.
Was it a conscious decision to take a break?
Yeah. As a cricketer in India who is playing a lot of competitive games, you do not get that type of a break. But I was happy to take that, work on myself and get back stronger. When you are away from the game, you can work on your fitness a bit harder. When you are playing there is a limit to push yourself. Staying away from the game also helps you understand a lot of things.
How much confidence do you get from scoring centuries in IPL?
IPL is one of the best tournaments in the world. You get to play against the best bowlers, best teams and best bowling line-ups. Everyone around you is the best in the world. Whenever you score a century in a T20 game, you understand your potential.
How does RR look now, especially with Ajinkya Rahane gone?
I think about 11-12 players have been released from the team. There will be more changes. I am excited about the IPL auction.
Your batting style looks best for longer formats. How do you score in T20s?
The format suits my style a bit more. I just watch the ball and react. In the training sessions, I do things as if I am playing a match. That has helped me score runs. I try to keep my practice sessions as difficult as possible.
How satisfied are you with your batting average in first-class (36.81) and List A (30.82)?
I do not have any complains with the performances I have had. I like the way I am playing and just want to continue like that.
How do ‘A’ series keep you motivated for national call-ups?
The ‘A’ series are very close to the international game. There is a lot of difference in terms of team, bowlers, and if we tour abroad the conditions are very different. These series really help every cricketer to shape themselves to get into the international level.
Performances for India A raise your name. People rate it above IPL or any other cricket. If you had a very good series with ‘A’, it is a very good time to go into the India side.
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