Ahead of Australia's high voltage clash against India tomorrow, skipper Jason Sangha has opened up about the initial days of his career when he was just falling in love with the sport.
“Being half-Indian, you always choose cricket,” jokes Sanga, who was born to Kuldip and Sylvia, who originate from India and settled in Australia in different generations. To add to this he says “ he loves talking cricket all day.”
“The best thing about Australia is that there are so many different sports that we all play. I’m one to always love playing not just cricket, but also basketball and soccer. We’re lucky to be in a country like Australia, where you can pursue a career in whichever direction you want to go. I really wanted to play cricket when I made it to the Under-16s Australian squad. That was probably my first major milestone and that’s when I thought I’ll try and pursue cricket a fair bit.”
Sangha had another major milestone when he was picked in the Australian Under-19 side for the 2016 World Cup. However, security concerns in Bangladesh meant the team had to withdraw from the tournament, leaving the players devastated.
“That year, I was selected to take part in the World Cup. For a young guy, it was a new experience,” he says. “It was the first major thing I’d accomplished in my cricket career, something I’ve cherished since. For me, it was difficult. I would’ve loved to be in Bangladesh, but I knew I had another World Cup coming up. Most of the guys were quite emotional about it, they knew how much it meant to actually not play that World Cup. From there, I had the extra desire and hunger to be a part of this World Cup.”
As captain, Sangha not just has to worry about his game, but also focus on the bigger team goal. The plans for the tournament, he says, started way before he even got to know he would be the captain.
“It hasn’t been a six-month planning. It’s honestly been for about two-three years, knowing this batch of age-group cricketers was going to be ready for the World Cup in 2018,” he explains. “It started with the Under-15s tournament. It’s been about consistent training, having a squad going to the NCC up in Brisbane and train there during the winters and the season. It’s honestly been a long process. It was very hard for the selectors. When you’re eyeing a World Cup in 2018, and you’re looking at the Under-15s, in three years players change so much. There was the Under-19s (national championship in Hobart) and before that the Under-17s – those were the two main tournaments the selectors could get an eye on for who was going for this World Cup. Everyone played so well, it was a tough one for the selectors, but this is the best squad we’ve got and I’m confident we can go all the way" concluded Sangha.