NEW DELHI: Sanju Samson is at a very interesting stage in his career. He always knocks on the doors of Indian selectors, but a safe place in the Indian team has eluded him. His name does not appear in the squad selected to play for India in the T20 World Cup in October-November.
However, he does have the responsibility of leading Rajasthan Royals. “Things are much clear. It is important to go into the team with a clear mind. There will be no doubts about the roster when IPL resumes,” Samson told TOI.
Days before the second half of IPL got underway, he sat down for a session with Jason Holder, who captained the Barbados Royals in the Caribbean Premier League.
Being a young captain of a developing team is not the easiest task, especially if you have yet to establish yourself as an international cricketer. Holder has solid first hand experience with the West Indies and Samson could only pick his brain.
“I don’t think leadership is a one-way street, or an individual thing. You know, you need your teammates, you need people around you, you need a strong support system like Clive Lloyd. So many people get caught up in the future and miss any moment,” says Holder.
Every time the IPL comes along, Samson falls into the spotlight. Each edition increases its stock. It took eight seasons before Samson knew how to handle the attributes.
“First of all, when you play for an IPL team and think about Indian selection, that’s a wrong mindset. People talk a lot about Indian selection and strengthening your spot, but that’s actually a by-product – when you perform, you get opportunities,” says Samson.
He is aware of the guns pointed at him and the critical eyes of the critics follow his every move. “I think IPL is the most watched tournament in the world. You will notice. People say good things about me and they say other things too. It’s natural to me now,” he claims. “Everyone has that kind of pressure. And everyone goes through that kind of pressure, knowing that there are so many people waiting outside anyway. That’s the reason behind the success of Indian cricket.”
Is there a temptation to become a T20 specialist like many of the West Indian stars, with so much T20 cricket and the emergence of new formats?
Holder does advocate the growth of shorter formats, but makes it amply clear that everything should revolve around Testcricket. “Something like The Hundred opens up new horizons. I enjoy T20, but the pinnacle of cricket is always Test cricket. I really enjoy representing Windies in Test cricket, closely followed by T20.”
The hundred format also excites Samson. “The hundred format could actually be very exciting. Jason is very lucky to play all three formats for his country and I would also like to do that first and then think about those lines,” says Samson.
The T20 World Cup rosters are behind both. It’s about taking on a new guard. For starters, Samson has a clear vision of Royals. It nurtures Indian talent. “I’ve been with RR since I was 18. I’ve seen a lot of Indian talent come in and play for India like Sakariya did. We give a product to the Indian team. That’s our mentality and that’s how we choose our team. We have to be the strongest team in the IPL,” he says.
As Holder said goodbye, he gave Samson a message: “As a young captain Sanju, just do what you feel man. Get a strong support system around you. You’ve done pretty well in the IPL campaign so far. I’m in the Sunrisers camp. I think we’re at the bottom of the table. So if there’s anything I should ask you for advice.”
The IPL starts in less than a week. Samson knows he missed an opportunity to play in a World Cup, but says: “Sanju Samson is happy with himself. I choose to be that way.”
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