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“I started off playing cricket, just as any normal kid would.” There’s a lovely sense of humility to Sydney lad Tanveer Sangha who has, in the space of one summer, lit up the Australian cricket world with his leg spin bowling. At just 19 years old, he’s gone from unknown T20 debutant to touted Test star.
Tanveer’s cricket connections reach as far as the national Men’s team coach Justin Langer, and he’s currently preparing to battle a formidable New Zealand line-up across the Tasman. He has every right to talk himself up, flex his statistics, and flaunt himself as a future Australian cricketer. Instead, he displays a striking level of maturity and perhaps more importantly, enjoyment of the game.
“I was nine and started playing in my local Under-10s team. We were only allowed to bat two overs, but you could get out as many times as you want… It was all about fun back then. Out of those 12 balls I could only hit, like, 2 or 3!” he told Indian Link with a grin.
From those early under-10s matches, the story of Tanveer Sangha really began.
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“As I started bowling leg spin at about 13 years old, that’s when I started making the local representative squads. When I was 15, I made my first NSW representative team, and from that tournament, I made my first Australia Under-16s team,” he said.
What followed were his selections into the Australia Under-17s, Under-19s, and then the Under-19 World Cup, ironically in 2019.
All those years of representative cricket paid off in the most recent T20 Big Bash League. Tanveer finished the season as the joint third-leading wicket-taker, played alongside experienced cricketers like Usman Khawaja, and earned his first call-up to Australia’s T20 squad.
He’s among a number of young, fresh faces in the national team, entering a vastly different cricket landscape from the ‘old’ era of Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar.
“My team-mates always tease me about it, but I am so bad with ‘old’ cricket history,” Tanveer confessed. “They’re shocked when I don’t know this player or that player. Well, I hated history in school – so I don’t like anything history related!’
Ahead of his debut, it’s clear that he’s entering a different cricket atmosphere than the players before him. Cash-rich leagues around the world are tempting (he briefly raises a fondness for Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab), newer competitions are on the horizon, and the game is evolving constantly.
For Tanveer, though, the most exciting part is the chance to observe how experienced players go about their game.
“I’m definitely looking forward to just being out there with all those senior guys [in New Zealand],” he shared. “Bowling to them, asking questions, training with them and seeing the intensity and the quality they train at. [Seeing] the little one-percenters that really help them get that edge to the next level, get that advantage over other guys.”
Noting the nice balance between the experience of the older players and the confidence and freedom of the younger players, he has some advice for up-and-coming cricketers.
“Having a good balance is very important. It shouldn’t always be cricket, cricket, cricket. There’s always hard work – facing a lot of balls, spending time in the nets… but it’s knowing what ‘quality’ training is,” Tanveer said. “Having that quality instead of quantity really helped me towards the back end of my training over the last few years.”
Like most cricket fans, he was glued to cricket updates this past summer. In fact, he looks to the AUSvIND series of 2020-21 as a guide for his future actions.
“I definitely saw many ups and downs [in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy], so many amazing performances from both sides – especially from India. With so many injuries and down times for India, what with quarantining, they still fought so hard on the field. They have so much passion and love for the game, and I reckon that really helped them come out in the series and keep fighting,” he said.
“I reckon that’s what might be similar for me. If I get my opportunity, I’m gonna take it, stand out there, and show what I can do as well.”
And finally, his predictions for the upcoming Australia – New Zealand series?
“3-2, Australia,” Tanveer smiled.