Sanju Samson, the young cricket prodigy from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, was ecstatic to once again be a part of the Rajasthan Royals squad. It is a home-coming for him, as playing for them in the IPL earlier, he had achieved success and went on to adorn the India cap. He has a mission and that is to bring victory to the RR side in the IPL. He feels he needs to do it for them solely because they gave him an opportunity in fulfilling his dream of playing for his country.
Samson is the name one associates with the biblical epic of a champion chosen by God whose strength was associated with his uncut hair. Sanju, in a similar vein, has been blessed with a natural flair in his stroke-play and an uncanny timing with which he effortlessly dispatches the bowlers over the ropes.
In an otherwise football loving State, Sanju had just one strong desire and that was to play cricket. His father, a police officer and a football player, has played a major part in the development of his cricket during his young days. A stickler for rules, timing and fitness he brought in discipline and values that helped Sanju immensely. An elder brother, who too happens to be playing for the Kerala U-23 side presently, was not only Sanju’s sparring partner but also a companion and comrade in all the hard tasks that were assigned by their father to enhance their cricket skills. One such regime was to make older bowlers bowl from a distance of 16 yards at his young brood. There were many occasions when they got hit but this exercise diminished their fear of the cricket ball and improved their footwork and reflexes. The senior bowlers bowling to Sanju were given an incentive by his father and that was that if any one of them got him out, the bowler would get a dinner treat from him. Sanju was, therefore, doubly focused to protect the family fortune as well. A similar tale of a coin placed on the stump, by Sachin Tendulkar’s coach, Ramakant Achrekar, comes to one’s mind.
The young Sanju Samson grew up watching and imbibing cricket strokes by watching players on television. He was ably tutored by his cricket coach in Thiruvananthapuram, Biju George, who even today plays a major part in his cricket career. Sanju’s favourite cricketers are Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Sangakkara and the one that most young players adore, Rahul Dravid. Sir Dravid, as he proudly calls him was the one who, after an RR net session, told him that he had a special talent. Hearing it from a super star was just the motivation that Sanju required to gain his confidence and work doubly hard. He was inducted into the RR side by Dravid and he went on to be rated as the best emerging young talent in the IPL 2013.
Cricket success to Sanju has come from a very young age. His first extraordinary success at cricket was when he was just 11 years old. Playing for the Kerala U-13 side he hit 4 centuries in 5 matches. At the young age of 15, he played 1st class cricket for Kerala and also became the youngest person to captain a Ranji Trophy side in 2015-16.
In 2014, he was a part of the Indian ODI team to England. Sanju is also a very agile wicket-keeper and therefore, is seen as an ideal replacement for M.S.Dhoni in the future. India’s former wicket-keeper, Kiran More, is helping him in further developing his skills as a keeper, as along with his batting, he could be a great asset for the Indian side in all formats of the game. He did get to play for India in just one ODI match against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2015 and being still relatively young, he is patiently awaiting a recall.
Residing in the serene seaside resort of Kerala, he loves playing football on the beach. Blessed with immense talent and strokes on both sides of the wicket, batting comes quite easily to him. He does feel he needs to strengthen himself mentally and be more selective in his shot making. In order to enhance this skill, he practices yoga and meditates in front of the calm ocean. He feels it brings him peace and tranquility and helps him reflect on his sole mission of becoming the best batsman and the best wicket-keeper in the world.
He enjoys his home cuisine and loves spicy fish and home cooked chicken biryani. Unfortunately, the focus on fitness and a healthy diet has made it difficult for him to relish his favourite foods in the way he would have liked to. He is obsessed with his fitness and models himself on the lines of the present India captain, Virat Kohli.
Sanju is all set to be the Samson of the RR side, he is looking forward to playing a prominent part in making the team a success. He feels that with Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes by his side, they should be able to win the IPL cup that they had held aloft a decade ago.
About the author:
Yajurvindra Singh is a former cricketer who represented India between 1977 and 1979. He enjoys the unique distinction of achieving 2 world records – 5 catches in an innings, and 7 catches in a match - on his debut.
Disclaimer: Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rajasthan Royals or its management.