Star Sixers debutant reveals Stokes link
Left-armer's stunning BBL debut might not have happened had England's star allrounder not taken his spot at Canterbury
20 December 2017, 11:25 AM AEST
Two weeks ago, Daniel Sams wasn't even a Sydney Sixers contracted player.
Fast forward a fortnight, and the left-arm quick found himself standing with the new ball in hand in front of a packed Spotless Stadium crowd, with the Sixers under immense pressure has they tried to defend 9-149 in their KFC BBL opener against their fiercest rivals.
And, in a further twist, none of it might have happened if it wasn't for Ben Stokes' arrival in New Zealand.
Sams, had been overlooked for a spot in the Thunder's main squad and was offered a run for Canterbury in the New Zealand domestic competition.
The 25-year-old enjoyed a stellar spell in his first taste of first-class cricket, taking 11 wickets in three matches, including a 4-55 against Auckland last month.
However his spot in the Canterbury team disappeared when Stokes, who was suspended from the England squad for the Magellan Ashes following an alleged assault on a night out, arrived for a short stint with the club.
"He did take my spot and rightly so," Sams said.
"He's one of the better allrounders in the world."
Rather than kick stones, Sams put the experience under his belt and returned to Australia with renewed confidence after showing promising signs in his short NZ stay.
Drafted into the Sixers squad as a replacement for Henry Thornton, who has been ruled out of BBL|07 through injury, Sams earned himself a start for the Sydney Smash on the back of strong warm-up match form.
If the intensity of the situation affected him, it wasn't obvious as he produced a starring performance, taking a remarkable 4-14 – including the wicket of a rampaging Shane Watson – to almost snatch victory for the Sixers.
Handed the new ball, he immediately repaid the faith with a brilliant opening over.
Sams coolly delivered two dot balls to begin the Sydney Thunder chase before Kurtis Patterson found the single the following delivery, putting England superstar Jos Buttler on strike.
Buttler also failed to score off the first two balls he faced, before top-edging the third to gift Sams a return catch, the Englishmen on his way back to the sheds for a duck.
Patterson struck two boundaries from Sams' second over – the third of the innings - but the left-armer returned emphatically in the third over, capturing the key wicket of Patterson to break a 75-run stand between the opener and his captain Shane Watson.
Again in the 18th over, Sams struck when his team needed it most, removing Ryan Gibson and Watson – who was on 77 from 45 at the time – with consecutive deliveries, before coming agonisingly close to a hat-trick with his next ball.
His 4-14 ultimately wasn't enough to get the Sixers over the line as Arjun Nair held his nerve to deliver a final-ball victory.
Despite the result, Sams said he couldn't have asked for much more from his BBL debut.
"It was a really good game for me, but it was a shame we couldn’t get over the line which was not ideal for the group," Sams said.
"(The size of the crowd) was quite overwhelming to start with, but once I was on the field I just did what I do and tried to embrace it and get on with the game."
A first-grade cricketer with Randwick Petersham who has played for NSW in the Toyota Futures League, Sams said it was a dream come true to be wearing magenta.
“It’s a dream come true really… I’m just ecstatic. The wicket suited my slower balls, and I really couldn’t ask for anything else.”
"As (Stokes' arrival in Canterbury) all happened, this all happened, so I was kind of thinking 'hopefully I can't go to New Zealand because I'm in the Big Bash'.
"Any experience over there was a blessing in disguise."
The Sixers will look for their first win of BBL|07 on Saturday when they host the Perth Scorchers at the SCG.
“There’s a lot of positives to take from this game," Sams said. "Whenever a T20 game gets down to the last ball, you learn a lot, and hopefully we can use that to be bigger and better on Saturday."
- with AAP