Rajasthan Royals protege Sanju Samson has had a dream start to 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League. Out of his team’s four matches yet this season, the 23-year old has been named Man-of-the-Match twice and is also the tournament’s second highest run-scorer after Virat Kohli.
In an exclusive interview, the 23-year-old talks about his form with the bat, on vanishing from the India scene after making his debut in 2015 and how Dav Whatmore helped him grow as a cricketer among other things.
Your IPL 2018 campaign has taken off brilliantly. How would you rate your own performance?
“It feels really good to contribute for the team’s success. It really matters when your team wins and you contribute. But the tournament has just started, it is very long, so it is important for me to keep my head down and keep on focussing on scoring runs and helping my team to get some good score on the board.”
You have been lauded of late from the likes of Virat Kohli & AB de Villiers. How do you react to such praise?
“It feels amazing when people like Virat bhai and de Villiers praise you. I have to thank IPL for giving me a chance for two months every year to come and play in front of these legends. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I feel very blessed that I am able to compete against the best in the world. Playing with and against the best brings out the best in me. But if you ask me what my goal is, I just want to maximise the potential according to the talent God has given me. I am working on it and I am happy that I am on the right path.”
“I don’t see myself making a return to any team. I don’t want to see the future nor my past. All those things are not in your control. When I got selected in 2015 I never thought that I was going to be picked. Things automatically happen, you never draw a line to your goal, that’s what I figured out from my experience. I don’t want to see myself reaching there, it will automatically happen if it has to happen. But the main thing which is in my control is to improve my fitness, game, cricketing skills and performance. Opportunities are always there. If you are not playing for India then it is Kerala. The domestic season is so big, plus you have the IPL, India A tours. I am not worried about selections.”
What has been (Kerala Ranji coach) Dav Whatmore’s role in shaping your career?
“When you are in the IPL or international set-up things are easier. People, the management, understand you and give you your own space to express yourself inside and outside the ground. But when we go back to domestic cricket people don’t really understand you. There are many coaches we have seen come and go. Having Dav Whatmore for the last one year has been like fresh air in the dressing room. We are more at ease, able to express, talk things and play the way we want to. He has really helped me to be myself. The first thing he told me was, ‘I just want you to play like Sanju Samson. If you want to hit a six off the first ball then go do it.’ So he gave me freedom and space. I hope that Kerala Cricket Association keeps him for many years.”
How easy or difficult is to switch formats so regularly?
“It is very important to keep on changing your style of play according to the format of the game you are playing in. But experience teaches you. I try and learn from my experiences on how to change according to the formats. At the start I struggled but now I can deal with it.”