Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Traitor?! Sams' unusual New Zealand return
It was a surreal match for Daniel Sams at Hagley Oval and the crowd only added to the experience
24 February 2021, 10:11 AM AEST
Of all the things the Hagley Oval spectators could have expected to call the visiting Australians on Monday evening, 'traitor' was probably right at the bottom of the list.
But that's exactly what allrounder Daniel Sams was labelled, having returned to the venue he made his first-class debut at in October 2017.
Sams had been toiling away for NSW in Second XI cricket and jumped at the chance to play first-class cricket across the ditch when Canterbury called up the Blues asking if they had any spare fast bowlers after their pace-bowling stocks were depleted by injury.
Batting at No.7 and opening the bowling, he scored quick-fire knocks of 49 and 88 and picked up three wickets in an eight-run win over Northern Districts.
Sams played two more matches before returning to Australia to play with the Sydney Sixers in the KFC BBL where he announced himself as a deceptive left-armer and hard-hitting lower-order batter.
"I was really excited before that first game because at Hagley Oval, playing for Canterbury, is where my professional career started," Sams said today.
"That was cool to be able to come back and play against New Zealand and see some of the guys that I played with at Canterbury and some of the support staff.
"That was special."
However, when Sams took the field with the Australians in the first T20 international, the knowledgeable Canterbury crowd let the returning 28-year-old know he was no longer a fan favourite.
"There were a few funny comments," Sams recalls.
"'Remember when you played for Canterbury? You're a bit of a traitor'.
"Geez, I don't know about that but it was all good. Good fun out there, good crowd."
While Sams' debut for Canterbury four years ago came out of the blue, it begun a rapid ascension that few could have predicted.
State and international debuts followed as he went from a part-time personal trainer to professional cricketer inside four years.
And it was with Canterbury where Sams picked up a key piece of advice from a mentor-turned-rival that has stuck with him to this day.
"I remember the now New Zealand coach, Steady (Garry Stead), was the Canterbury coach then and I remember just before I went in to bat he said to me, 'Just make sure you go out there and be free and bat the way you think you need to bat in this situation'," the allrounder said.
"That's stuck with me throughout my career so far because it frees me up and enables me to evaluate the situation and play how I think the situation needs to be played out."
Sams will be looking to put that advice to good use in the second T20, to be played in Dunedin on Thursday from 12:00pm AEDT, as Australia aim to rebound from their series-opening 53-run loss in Christchurch.
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, *Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee. *Finn Allen (on stand-by for Guptill)
1st T20: New Zealand won by 53 runs
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo