Under-19 Boys National Championships
The teen titan turning heads for Australia
New South Wales batsman Jason Sangha continues to impress at the Under 19 National Championships
Aaron Pereira in Adelaide
3 December 2015, 09:02 AM AEST
When former Test captain Greg Chappell rates you as one of the top juniors Australia has produced, there has to be some merit behind you.
When you are selected to travel to England as a 15-year-old as part of the New South Wales Combined High Schools squad, your gameplay must be strong.
And when you are the only teenager to progress through Cricket Australia's elite junior pathway out of more than 70 kids, you're one of a kind.
Meet Jason Sangha, the prodigious teenage talent out of Newcastle who, having turned 16 in September, is making waves in the Under 19 National Championships.
A classy No.3 bat, Sangha is stylish and graceful yet powerful beyond his years. At 13 he made his debut in Newcastle's first-grade competition. Earlier this year he lead from the front as NSW won the inaugural School Sports Australia under-15 tournament in Darwin. That earned him a spot in the Cricket Australia XI to contest the Under 17 National Championships in Brisbane, from where he was the only player to progress to the CA XI for the U19 championships.
Sangha opened the U19 championships with a duck, but rebounded to score 122 against Tasmania in the CA XI's second match. He hit eight fours and six sixes in a 134-ball innings. He also performed a run out and took a crucial catch in the match.
After three matches, the youngest batsman at the U19 championships is averaging 46.
Chappell, CA's National Talent Manager, has long been watching Sangha's rise through the ranks and has been impressed throughout.
"Jason is a very talented cricketer, he is an elegant stroke-maker with a touch of class that is the hallmark of the very best players," Chappell said.
"I look forward to watching his game develop over the next few years."
His drives are picturesque, his defence looks solid and his footwork is quick and nimble. Cricket fans often have to pay to see this kind of quality.
Sangha's pathway journey began in June, when he was named amongst the best in the School Sports Australia carnival in Darwin, compiling 167 runs at an average of 41.8 including 48 in the final to see New South Wales to victory.
In a side full of stars, including that of former Test captain Steve Waugh's son Austin, Sangha's shined the brightest.
Jason Sangha in action at the U17 championships // Brody Grogan
Picked in the inaugural Cricket Australia XI for the Under 17 National Championships in Brisbane, pundits said the squad was there for the experience and respectfully weren't expected to be ultra-competitive.
Even coach Stuart Law, speaking conservatively before the beginning of the championships said he would be happy if his side was somewhat competitive in each game.
But a side with Sangha in it can't be discounted, and won't be again after he contributed 310 runs including four half-centuries, leading his side to within one game of reaching the Grand Final.
It takes a harsh critic to pick holes in the game of a 16-year-old, but when your sights are set on the highest level there is no harsher critic than Sangha himself. He's set a personal goal of converting his starts into big scores and scoring more centuries. But when you have an average of 41.5 across the representative tournaments of 2015, nobody is complaining.
Despite all of the adulation, Sangha keeps a level head and doesn't let the notoriety get to him.
"It's an absolute privilege, not everybody gets to play for their country," Sangha said.
"Before the Under 15s, I wasn't thinking about playing in other tournaments so it's an absolute surprise and a bonus that I've been selected.
"Right now I'm not trying to think about contracts or anything, on the outside it is nice that people are saying nice things and writing about you, if I keep focused then hopefully good things will come."
The many variables of cricket mean thereis of course no guarantee he could one day don the Baggy Green. But one thing's for certain, should he have a successful Under 19s tournament, Jason Sangha is a name you'll be hearing plenty more of.