For a 19-year-old to score 530 runs from six matches in the Ranji Trophy speaks volumes about his temperament and will to excel. That is exactly what sets Sanju Samson apart from other young cricketers of his age.
Add to that his excellent showing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League and one can see a great performer in the making.
Speaking to Mail Today , Samson said that while he idolised Brian Lara to start off with, he was an ardent follower of A. B. de Villiers’s game after Lara’s retirement. But interacting with Rahul Dravid after joining Rajasthan Royals is what changed his approach towards the game, and that is exactly what has made him attain the success that he has managed to achieve so far since making his first-class debut in 2011.
"To be honest, I was a big fan of Lara as a kid. After his retirement, I looked at de Villiers. But it was my interactions with Dravid sir that changed my approach towards the game. It is amazing how much one can learn by just listening. People would think that how would it work as our style of playing is different — as witnessed in the IPL. But I never asked him a single question about playing T20 cricket,” Samson said.
"It was all about how he prepares for a game and the little things that he did to ensure there’s no lack of preparation going into a match. I asked him how exactly he managed his career at my age. It really helped as I have stopped keeping high expectations from myself and try and enjoy myself when I go out in the middle, something I didn’t do earlier. It has also helped me realise that I play the game because I really love it.
"Not to forget, even the seniors in the Kerala team have been really helpful and have always come forward to help whenever I have had any cricketing issues.”
Doing well in the IPL might have made him famous, but Samson is more concerned about the upcoming Under-19 World Cup.
"I believe that the IPL gives young players an opportunity to showcase their talent, but playing for India is my ultimate goal. I don’t want to waste the talent god has bestowed on me. And as of now, the U-19 World Cup is my sole focus,” he declared.
The negative side of becoming a household name is the money and adulation that comes with it. But Samson is clear that his priority is playing the game and all these things shouldn’t be encouraged too much.
"It feels good when people recognise you, but all these shouldn’t become central to one’s life. I feel that my job as a cricketer is to spend hours on the ground and sweat it out. And as I have said earlier, I believe that god has given me something — talent — that not everyone has. So I won’t waste it,” he said.
Representing Kerala in domestic cricket isn’t an easy task as more often than not, performances by players from states like Mumbai, Delhi and Tamil Nadu hog the limelight, but Samson isn’t complaining.
"I am really proud that I represent Kerala and my dream is to make it one of the top teams in the domestic circuit in the time to come,” he signed off.
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