Fearless Samson bodes well for Kerala’s future


One of the stated objectives of the Indian Premier League is to spot, encourage and groom young talent in the country. How much the IPL has succeeded in this objective is open to debate, but like every year, this season too has thrown up a clutch of youngsters who have caught the eye.

Names that come readily to mind are pace bowler Mohit Sharma of Chennai, leg- spinner Karan Sharma of Hyderabad, but perhaps nudging ahead is 18- year- old Sanju Samson of Rajasthan Royals, who has shown precocity.

Samson keeps wickets and bats in the middle order, though in a key match he was also sent in at No. 3 and acquitted himself most admirably. He has shown a good head even in tough situations. He is quick on his feet and has good ball sense, both behind and in front of the wicket.

The most endearing aspect of Samson’s batsmanship, apart from youthful exuberance, is his fearlessness. Aggression seems to be his natural mode. But unless it is backed by ability, a batsman can look foolishly reckless. He hasn’t.

Samson comes from Kerala, where football and volleyball have traditionally overshadowed cricket. His arrival suggests that cricket is getting deeply ingrained in Kerala’s sporting ethos and we might see some more youngsters making an impact soon.

So far so good. But now comes the sobering aspect of hollow stardom derived from the IPL — or more broadly, T20 cricket.

Look back over the past six seasons and there are several players who were thought to be the ‘ Next Big Thing’ and became instant hits — only to fizzle out even more dramatically.

The most telling example is Yusuf Pathan, who almost assumed cult status ( apart from earning an enviable amount of money) because of his prowess in T20 cricket, but has seen his form fade away badly in the past two seasons.

At least Yusuf played in ODIs for a brief period with some success. Others like Joginder Sharma, Manpreet Gony, Kamran Khan and Naman Ojha have either faded away or stagnated.

This is not to diminish the importance of the IPL but to put it in perspective. Given the hoopla and attention it receives, there is no better event for a young player to showcase talent. But the flip side to this is that success in the IPL ( or T20) is not an index to proficiency in other formats.

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