Last summer's Big Bash surprise packet Daniel Sams has forced his way into the Blues' squad for the JLT One-Day Cup and now he’s set on staying there.
Sams was today named in a 14-man squad for the JLT Cup, which includes Australia Under-19 representatives Jason Sangha and Jack Edwards, after the quick impressed in his debut KFC BBL season with the Sydney Sixers last year and strong performances for the Blues in the pre-season.
The Randwick-Petersham product who was born in Mileperra in Sydney's south west and played for the same Bankstown clubs as Steve and Mark Waugh, wasn't sure what the future looked like a few months ago, but at age 26 he was determined to give professional cricket a crack.
A meeting with new Blues head coach Phil Jaques and head selector David Freedman this winter instilled a belief that an opportunity in the JLT Cup squad was possible, so Sams went about putting together an irresistible case for selection.
"I feel like I've been doing the same thing for the past few years and just haven't for one reason or another quite been able to crack it," Sams told cricket.com.au.
"I think just over consistent performances I feel like I've forced my way in just by sticking to what I do.
"The Big Bash last year has helped a lot.
“Being away in Brisbane the last 10 days playing the trial games and unfortunately I had a little bit of a niggle, but I've been able to get over that and just from my performances in the pre-season, training with the guys, I'm pretty ecstatic about the result.”
What Sams does is bowl awkward left-arm fast-medium pace with an armory of slower balls and variations along with the ability to hit a cricket ball a very long way.
Having spent a few years with the Sydney Sixers academy, Sams went to the Thunder's academy last summer but before he knew it he was back in magenta as a replacement player and out in the middle playing.
His maiden BBL game was against the Thunder, claiming 4-14 including the wickets of England gloveman Jos Buttler, experienced batsman Kurtis Patterson and captain Shane Watson.
As an allrounder Sams looks up to Watson and got to train alongside him in his Thunder academy days, but as a left-armer he likens himself to a former Blues paceman.
"Variations-wise in one-day cricket you can't really look past Nathan Bracken," Sams said.
"I wouldn't say I've modelled myself off him but thinking the way he went about his bowling, I guess the way ‘Bracks’ used to bowl and the way that I bowl is potentially similar, albeit he's a foot taller than me."
Sams' next goal is making cricket his full-time profession.
When he's not training in the nets, Sams works as a personal trainer, but wants to put that vocation aside to narrow his focus on cricket.
He can achieve that feat by playing four games for the Blues, which would see him accrue enough points to be upgraded to a NSW contract.
With six BBL games under his belt, Sams is going to use what he learned from last summer and look to keep doing what he's been doing in order to swap F45 for 50-over cricket full-time.
"The batters are really good," Sams said when asked what his takeaways were from his first BBL season.
"I'd only ever really played T20 in first-grade and some academy stuff, but going up to Big Bash the batters are just … if you miss slightly you're gone. So you've really got to execute.
"The big takeaway I got from the Big Bash was if you have the right plan your margin for error is bigger so it's a little bit easier to execute.
"If you have the wrong plan to a certain batter, if you don't hit the exact spot you're gone.
"The plans are just as important as the execution."
NSW Squad for the JLT Cup: Peter Nevill, Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Ryan Gibson, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Stephen O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha