Indian-born spinner Tanveer Sangha was included in the Australian squad for the T20I series in New Zealand next month on Wednesday, following a prolific first season of Big Bash.
Playing for the Sydney Thunder, the 19-year-old became the third-biggest wicket-taker, with 21 dismissals at the end of the group stage, with 16.66 points each and a saving of 8.04 points per pass – leaving behind established leg warmers such as T20 mainstay Rashid Khan and compatriot Adam Zampa. Drummers left foxed include Australian captain Aaron Finch and Peter Handscomb and Chris Lynn.
The national appeal is a justification for Father Joga. He migrated to the south-western suburbs of Sydney from Rahimpur Kala Sanghian, a village 20 km from Jalandhar, in 1997. Joga worked on a farm in Brisbane before becoming a taxi driver in Sydney.
“I have never watched cricket in India. I played kabaddi, volleyball and wrestling. Here we have these tournaments (wrestling) in the winters and Tanveer often accompanies me and plays in the junior fights, ”Joga told the Indian Express. “When he was ten, we signed him up for the Ingleburn RSL club to play cricket. I picked up and dropped off Tanveer from our home in Ingleburn to the club which meant I had to skip some of my cab rides and work early in the morning or late at night.
Sangha responded by doing the job. And when he didn’t let him tear up on the pitch, the youngster was devouring YouTube compilations by Shane Warne and – most recently – Indian star Yuzvendra Chahal.
In the Big Bash, Sangha was used in Powerplays and on Death. To brake the rate of racing against a red-hot Glenn Maxwell and to make breakthroughs. Fans called him “a true heir to Nathan Lyon” and Thunder coach Shane Bond used the adjective “exceptional”.
Signed by Thunder as a development rookie in 2018, Sangha became the third youngest BBL rookie the following year. He finished the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa last year as Australia’s most successful bowler. Last month, he pulled a wicket out of the third delivery on his BBL debut.
Those who know are not surprised. Anthony Clark, the development coach at Cricket New South Wales, who has worked with Sangha since he was under 16, told The Indian Express: “It’s the desire to learn and to listen. Even now there will be a message after the game, asking a question… He is much more mature than his age says. He wants big challenges, bigger opportunities … just the amount of bowling he does … We ask players to record the number of balls they play and his number is so much higher than any other bowler from the country.
Growing up, like Father Joga, Sangha Jr was also not consumed by cricket. Between volleyball sessions at the local Gurudwara, the fall for cricket occurred gradually, during a summer vacation spent in his ancestral village. Soon, Sangha will bring tips learned in the Rahimpur Fields to the parks of Campbelltown, and later to his school.
Despite the bragging of the Waugh brothers and five-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe as alumni, East Hills Boys High School is not a “sports school”. And it worked perfectly for Sangha.
“A lot of people have told me to go to a sports school,” Sangha told the Sydney Morning Herald last month. “I had friends who would go to a sports school and train after school, before and during school. For me it wasn’t cricket, cricket, cricket all the time. I 100% liked going to a normal public school. I could just relax and then focus on cricket.
READ | Indian-born teenager Tanveer Sangha picked for Australian T20I team
Byron Hackshall, Sangha’s high school coach and PA teacher, recalls Tuesday afternoons of futile deliberation over which sport to play. “Rather than try something different, he just wanted to play cricket,” Hackshall laughed. “Very vocal and energetic in the field, he is an exceptional role model for our school.”
Last season, the amount of bowling he does left Sangha with back problems. “He slowed down and worked on specific exercises. When he was finally cleared for the national Under-19 tournament last year, he was like a kid on Christmas Eve. He got some crucial wickets, scored some points and helped us win the final, ”says Clarke.
Last year Sangha also had the chance to mingle with the heroes of New South Wales. When he didn’t send back to Steve Smith, Sangha picked Nathan Lyon’s brains out on how to organize the layoffs. But it was Moises Henriques who really took him under his wing.
“They were playing and fighting each other and Moises kept an eye on his game.” It was good, why don’t you do that more? Not many other guys in the Blues squad kept talking to him as well, ”says Clark, adding that the Covid restrictions have helped, by keeping practice groups small. “It made things a lot better for the younger players as the conversations with the senior players were more consistent.”
Sangha has emerged as a find at a time when Australia is on the hunt for spinners, especially without a clear successor from 33-year-old Lyon. At Sheffield Shield 2019-20, the top 20 box office takers were all pacemakers; The 21st was Steve O’Keefe, the 36-year-old left-arm Orthodox.
“With our fast bowlers we have a long list… doing well. But with the spin, we have Nathan and that’s it. What are we doing to help children develop? O’Keefe told Wide World of Sports at the time.
While comparisons to former great skaters have followed, these are not only extremely premature, but alien as well. “I wouldn’t compare Sangha to any of these top bowlers from a technical standpoint. He’s kind of a more subcontinental leg spinner, ”says Clark. “And although he does really well in T20, he has a lot of layers. Consistency and variation, as well as the ability to change flights, is something few young players have. He took out players with balls in the front of his hand, with a pretty fake “one”.
Hackshall says “it’s a generational thing”, with Sangha entering professional cricket through the T20s. “Being able to play six different balls is expensive. In Test or Shield cricket it’s about trying to build up the pressure ball after ball in the same spot, ”says Hackshall. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best yet. The more Tanveer plays long format cricket, the better his control will be. “
Joga, meanwhile, looks back and dreams of the future.
“Tanveer accompanied me and my friends to watch India take on Australia in a T20 game at SCG in 2018 and said later that one day we would watch him play Australian colors from the same venue,” said Joga. “We know it’s too early to tell, but watching him play in the T20 World Cup in India this year at the stadium or on TV will be a dream come true for him.
With contributions from Nitin Sharma