CHENNAI: “I don’t want to think about my past. Whatever happened, happened.” It’s curious listening to Sanju Samson, who is still only 22 but has had enough experience in life to bring out an abridged autobiography.
He is, of course, referring to his run-in with the Kerala Cricket Association. Here’s a refresher course — KCA initiated a disciplinary probe following an alleged breach of conduct during a Ranji match against Goa last season. After making two noughts in as many matches (Goa and Andhra), he wanted to visit the NCA for an ongoing knee problem.
Since then, it became a whole load of ‘he said, she said’ with the truth buried somewhere in the middle of all the white noise — he effectively stood accused of ‘deserting’ his team. In a continuing theme, Sanju, back in the spotlight after an interesting few weeks in December, again made another nought. This time versus an England XI in Mumbai.
It’s obvious the last two months have taken a toll but he wants to use it to try and become a better cricketer. “It’s a great learning experience for me,” he says. “I am (mentally) happy with where I am and don’t want to push myself again (to the past).”
Crucially, there has been renewed focus to try and improve his skills behind the stumps. An association with Kiran More was struck to that effect. The focus has been on positioning. “We are working on his hands and movement,” More told Express. “Most modern day stumpers show an extra emphasis on batting and there is a danger that finer details may be ignored.”
The 54-year-old, who is also working with the likes of Rishabh Pant, has been available at an emotional level. “Those disciplinary issues can happen to anyone. I have asked him to move on, getting all those negative thoughts out of the system.”
The system welcomed him back to the Kerala fold but there were question marks about how the team would react. Would there have to be any Kevin Pietersen-style reintegration ceremonies? That’s before Tinu Yohanan speaks about one of his most talented wards. “He’s not young anymore, you know,” the Kerala coach said. “The actual young guys actually look up to him.”