Have you ever tried composing a song? If you have, you’d know how much effort goes in to make it sound right. You have to first choose a structure; then work on the lyrics and find the best melody that fits the structure. Finally, you add some chords to each part and connect them with the right combination of notes and transitions. And Voilà! You have probably created a superhit.
All that effort and your audience just gets to listen to the final product, right? While they appreciate your track, they’d probably be unaware of what goes on behind perfecting the track. Batting can be pretty similar. Sanju Samson knows a thing or two about how to structure an innings and present the most melodious of knocks to his fans. What they see is an effortless execution of what he has trained tirelessly for over the years.
Sanju Samson has had a good 2019. Earlier in the year, he scored a magnificent century for Rajasthan Royals in their second game of the Vivo IPL season. He had several meaty contributions through the season. Samson has been quite prolific in domestic cricket too. Playing for India A, he scored a belligerent 48-ball 91 against South Africa A in September. He has got some fine starts for Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, but his unbeaten 212 takes the icing on the cake. It was his maiden List A century and he went on to convert it into a double. We caught up with Sanju and had a one-on-one with the Royals superstar after his record-breaking knock.
When & how did you find out about all the records you broke with your unbeaten 212?
I only found out when I got back to the dressing room. My coach and teammates told me about the records I broke.
This is your first List A century. How different did it feel from the Two IPL centuries you scored?
Yeah, it was a bit different from the IPL. In the IPL, the challenges can be tougher. The bowlers are from the international level and are the best in the business.
When you walked out to bat, when did it feel like it was your day?
I have been batting well in the last few months. I have been working hard on my skills, hitting the ball well in the earlier games. I have scored some runs; 40s, 60s, but unfortunately I’ve got out. So, somewhere I knew, I will have my day and I was enjoying batting. When I passed 100, I thought that reaching 200 was possible on that day.
You hit sixes with a gold-like swing, very few batsmen do that. How did you develop this ability?
I used to practice hitting sixes a lot during my younger days. I keep practising it even today. I feel it comes somewhat naturally to me.
What kind of balls do you look for when you are in an aggressive mindset?
When I’m in an aggressive frame of mind while batting and if the ball is in my area, I go for a six or a boundary. It happens very instinctively; I can’t really pick a particular kind of ball. If it’s anywhere in my zone, I go for it.
What is the first thing you would do when you learn that you’re selected again in the Indian team?
I would be very happy and I’d like to thank God for it before anything else.
How has Rajasthan Royals helped you develop your game? Any tips from the RR coaches that have helped you?
Firstly, I’d like to thank them for who I am right now. I started playing for RR when I was 18. There are very few things you can do all by yourself. You need some quality people around you which will help you grow soon as a cricketer, or even as a person. So, I was very lucky to get into the RR setup and find people like Rahul Sir (Dravid) and Zubin Bharucha.
Zubin sir has been there with me for a very long time. I talk to him a lot about my game, about cricket, and I’ve really learned a lot from him. We have spent hours and hours in the camps before the IPL and keep in touch after the season ends as well. So, he is a constant, he is more of a friend to me than a coach. He has helped me a lot to perform.
The RR setup and the whole management is like family to me. During the IPL, I feel like I’m at home. After the IPL too, they keep sending me messages. It could be Romi bhai, our manager, or Arjun Bhai; all of them want me to play for India and they want me to succeed. I got a call from them (after his 212*) saying that they were more than happy to see me succeed. RR is more than a family for me. I really enjoy with them, and I’d like to thank each and everybody in the family for my success. I would love to do more for them, I think I haven’t done enough for them, there’s so much more to do for my RR family.
What are your plans for Syed Mushtaq Ali Tropy & Ranji Trophy?
I would pretty much like to do the same thing I’m doing currently. The dream is to always represent my country. As I’ve always said, India is the number 1 cricket playing nation in the world. So, it is not a simple or a small thing; if you want to get selected into the world’s number 1 team, you have to be special.
I keep working hard, I keep working in different ways. I need to make myself special or I need to make myself worthy of wearing the blue jersey. Nobody can easily get into that blue jersey, you have to earn the place. I’m happy to wait for my time and happy to prepare myself to get into the team.
What message do you have for RR fans?
The Royals fans have been very kind and supportive over the last few years. We would definitely like to win the IPL for them. Their support has been pretty amazing after we returned in 2018. Everyone was missing RR, I was definitely missing the team, the Jaipur crowd and the Jaipur ground. The RR fans have always supported and backed me and the whole team. We have an amazing team in the IPL and in the coming year, we will hopefully bring back the cup to Jaipur and Rajasthan. I’d want them to keep supporting us and we will make them proud soon.
The melody of Sanju Samson is ringing in every Rajasthan Royals fan’s ear. We have seen him smash the ball around the park on numerous occasions, we have seen him toy with the bowling time and again. Samson has been among the runs with good consistency, and a strong domestic season will only push his case further for a call-up to the national team. Don’t we all love to listen to the Sanju Samson symphony!