The world has started to talk about Sanju Samson, again. He started the 2020 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a bang. He kicked off with two blistering knocks and now, he’s had two successive failures.
Two big knocks (74 and 85) in Sharjah and three failures outside Sharjah (8, 4, and 0). While these are worrying signs with the contrasting returns- such starts from Samson aren’t too surprising. This has been the case over the last three seasons irrespective of the venues. Samson has had the tendency of starting off like a firecracker before fizzling out.
Just look at some of the numbers in each of the last three IPL seasons.
In 2017, he started with a 13 but scored a ton (102) in the next. He scored only 271 runs in 12 innings after that. 2018 saw him get three good scores of 49, 37, and 92 not out before making 263 runs in 12 innings. In 2019, he made 30 before 102 not out but could muster just before scoring 210 runs in 10 innings.
Since the start of 2017, nearly 40% of his runs in each IPL season have come in the first two or three games. Samson has just not been able to retain that consistency. This season hasn’t been too different. 74 and 85 to start and 12 runs put together in the next two games.
There is absolutely no doubt that Sanju Samson is a quality player and is arguably one of the most talented batsmen in India at the moment. Not only in India, but there are a lot of people around the world who rate Samson very highly.
This statement would’ve been true even two or three years back. In fact, it’s been this way for a few years now. At times, when he plays and he is on song, it looks like there’s an artist at work. Samson can make batting look very easy.
It was back in 2012 that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) spotted him and bought him in the auction. He was just 17 at the time and hadn’t had a great start to his domestic career. Samson made his debut across all three formats in the 2011-12 season and all he scored across the three formats 79 runs eight innings, out of which 41 came in one game, his debut List ‘A’ innings.
And in 2013, Samson made headlines with Rajasthan Royals. He didn’t score a lot of runs but the talent was there for the world to see. He went to the Under-19 World Cup in 2014 and top-scored for India – 267 runs with three fifties. And ever since, he has got the world talking about him.
The Kerala cricketer even made his India debut in 2015 but played just one game. The way Samson bats at times and the way he scores, there are times when you want to pull your hair and ask, why is this young lad not playing or is nowhere close to being in the Indian team.
Moreover, Samson has been playing the IPL regularly as well. In fact, he is a big IPL player. Over the last few years, he has been vital to the Rajasthan Royals (RR) line-up.
But for some reason, Samson has just not been able to take it to the next level. There has never been that consistency. Be it first-class cricket, List ‘A’, T20s, or even the IPL, be it for Kerala, Rajasthan Royals, India ‘A’ or even in the few matches he’s played for India, Samson has never taken off.
Look at his IPL numbers year after year. He has scored in excess of 200 runs every season, he’s gone past the 300-run mark four times, three of which have come in the last three seasons. His strike-rate has been upwards of 135 from the last three seasons.
Yet, Samson just cannot find that consistency. He has the tendency of making those pretty 20s and 30s. In fact, the Kerala-born cricketer has been dismissed between 20 and 49 as many as 27 times in his IPL career. That is nearly 30% of the time he’s batted. He has just 12 half-centuries and two centuries.
Last season (2019-20), Samson scored a fabulous double ton in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Kerala. In the games that followed, he scored 15 and 0. That right there has been Samson’s problem all his career.
It’s been more flashes of brilliance from Samson rather than a prolonged stretch of consistent scores. And it’s been the same in domestic cricket as well. He comes up with some blistering performances and gets the world talking about him. But he just goes bust after a few good games and there is no buzz around him again.
But ever since that double ton, he’s got the world taking his name again. Samson got into the Indian T20I side as well and finally added to his solitary appearance which came back in 2015. But hasn’t clicked so far in India colors for the 25-year-old.
Despite all the inconsistency and his contrasting returns, year after year (season after season), Samson’s name pops up at the start of the IPL and there is a buzz around him. It feels like this could be his year (or season). He sparkles and makes the world sit up and take notice. Eventually, he has tailed off as the tournament progresses.
It has been a pattern and tendency for him to fizzle out after a blockbuster performance. He’s 25 now and has a lot of cricket left in him and as experts say, some of his best (prime) years are ahead of him. It’s high time Samson rectifies his fluctuating form.
It’s not like he’s had glaring problems. Samson gets runs but he simply needs to convert those starts. He needs to capitalize on the take and sail throughout the season. It just can’t be boom and bust like the previous seasons once again. Samson is too good a player for that.
With 171 runs so far, you’d argue it is a good start to the season. But the start has been like the last three years. Once again, it seemed like it’s time for Sanju Samson but the last three knocks seem to prove otherwise and it’s going in the direction of the last three seasons.
Sometimes, you pull your hair and say, why is he not in the Indian team. And sometimes, you just realize why he is not in the Indian team. The inconsistency just seems to be eating him up time and again. And if he has to make a case for a spot in the Indian team, this inconsistency has to go.