England v Australia T20Is - Men's
Thunder star Sams eyes the next step
The Big Bash's leading wicket-taker last summer, Daniel Sams was shocked to be included in Australia's UK tour planning
20 July 2020, 01:48 PM AEST
When Daniel Sams checked his voicemail last week, he could barely believe who had called with immensely important news.
"That sounds like Trevor Hohns … but why would he be calling me?" Sams said to his wife Danii after listening to the message left by the missed caller.
When Sams rang back, the National Selector told him he had been picked in Australia's 26-man preliminary squad in preparation for the upcoming limited-overs tour of England this September.
"I wasn't even aware there was a tour potentially coming up, so it was a complete shock," Sams told cricket.com.au today.
Sams then got a text from Australia men's head coach Justin Langer, who congratulated the left-armer and told him to be ready in case he was selected in the cutdown squad that will travel to the UK if the tour goes ahead.
Langer need not worry about Sams. He is ready.
The 27-year-old has been training with his NSW teammates in Sydney with an eye on the Marsh One-Day Cup having secured his second full state contract in as many years.
Sams had been splitting his time between his day job as a personal trainer and pursuing a cricket career before he was given a contract upgrade by NSW in the 2017-18 season.
Since then he has put all his energy into cricket and the improvement is clear to see.
In the past three KFC BBL seasons, only Adelaide Strikers spinner Rashid Khan has taken more wickets than Sams' 52, which includes a tournament-high 30 last summer.
Sams says the ability to fully commit to his cricket aspirations is one of the reasons behind his success.
"I feel that over the past couple of years I've been able to purely focus on cricket and being in the setup, having the resources, I have been able to make the progress that you really should in that kind of setup," Sams said.
"I've benefited from being in that setup instead of having to work and do the cricket stuff as a second job. That's probably the biggest thing."
In addition to the progress he has made physically, Sams has dedicated time to sharpening his mental approach.
Sams has been working with Cricket NSW sports psychologist Gerard Faure-Brac and together they have been focused on identifying and eliminating distractions across all aspects of the game.
"We do a lot of work physically, but I don't think we match it mentally and I think it's one of the things that's not unlocked as much as it could be," he said.
"It's about being able to refocus and realise when you're getting distracted.
"It's good training for life but it's good for cricket in that you can realise when you're distracted at training or when you're competing, whether it's in the nets or in a game, on what you're thinking about.
"It could be when I'm batting, I'm thinking about what the bowler is going to bowl – that's kind of distracting because that then takes focus of my cues and what I need to do.
"The mind's a powerful thing. That work has definitely played a part."
While Sams was at his peak with the ball last BBL summer, his batting failed to click.
At his best, the right-hander can clear the fence with ease but in BBL|09 with the Sydney Thunder he scored just 55 runs in 15 innings, recording twice as many ducks (four) as he did sixes hit.
"Bowling-wise mentally I was good but batting, mentally I was a little bit overwhelmed and had a couple of technical errors which I think were caused by the mental issue," he said.
"I've definitely been doing work on that this preseason."
With an Australian call-up closer than ever, Sams is on the right track to achieving his goal of representing his country at the highest level.
But Sams also wants to add to his five first-class caps, the last of which coming in October 2018 for the Blues having debuted for Canterbury in New Zealand 12 months earlier.
Sams has 13 wickets and 255 runs in his five first-class appearances to date and sees himself playing as an allrounder in NSW's powerful Marsh Sheffield Shield side if he can start putting runs on the board.
"My goal has been to get into the Australian team and realistically that looks like white-ball cricket for the meantime," he said.
"Then I want to get back into the Shield team and solidify that spot and be a dominant figure in that team.
"When I'm able to be a bit more consistent with that and get runs that fits me in that nice allrounder spot batting in the middle order and being that third/fourth-change seamer."