West Indies v Australia T20Is - Men's
Tanveer's time in Aussie colours just beginning
The BBL's teenage breakout leg-spin star Tanveer Sangha hopes to make his international debut on Australia's coming T20 tours of the Caribbean and Bangladesh
27 May 2021, 03:19 PM AEST
Tanveer Sangha was sitting alone in his hotel room in New Zealand when it hit him: Here I am, with the actual Australia men's team.
The Sydney Thunder teenager was the youngest of three uncapped players drafted into an 18-player squad that went across the Tasman in February for a five-match T20 series, having been a surprise inclusion.
He didn't play on that tour as Australia lost 2-3, but the experience was invaluable. And to underline his standing in the national selectors' thoughts, he was last week named in the preliminary 23-player squad for a tour that will take in limited-overs matches in the West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August.
Sangha remains hopeful of making the final cut to tour, with fellow leggies Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson, as well as left-arm orthodox tweaker Ashton Agar, also named in the squad that is expected to be trimmed by four or five names before players depart in late June.
The first five days of that maiden Australia tour were spent in hard quarantine and after an impressive debut KFC BBL season, it was the 19-year-old's first chance to sit back and reflect on an extraordinary summer.
The reflections came after a "surreal" experience at Sydney airport where the Australia squad assembled.
"I didn't know if was supposed to say anything, or even say hello, or go up to people, or what," Sangha recalls to cricket.com.au with a laugh.
"I was really nervous, I just didn't want to make a mistake and look silly, you know.
"It was pretty overwhelming when (selector) George Bailey rang me – I was in Adelaide for a Big Bash game against the Strikers. I was shocked, I didn't know how to react, and I didn't really actually take it in during the season.
"When I was in quarantine in New Zealand I really tried to stop and take it all in, thinking, I'm here with the actual Australia men's team.
"It's not some U19s team, or an NPS squad, this is the actual senior men's team … it felt like a dream.
"Obviously I'm very eager to play for my country, but I never expected I'd even get an opportunity to be in an Australian squad this early."
The son of Indian parents who migrated to Australia in 1997, Sangha's story starts long before the U19 World Cup in South Africa in early 2020 – he already held a contract with the Thunder, for instance – but that was where he took his first steps into the spotlight.
In six matches in South Africa he took 15 wickets and won games off his bat with his composed power hitting in the death overs.
"From that Under-19 World Cup, I had a bit of a feeling I would be in a better position to play in BBL10, I was really keen on playing and preparing myself to play," Sangha tells cricket.com.au this week.
"I don't know if it's been a 'whirlwind', I really expected myself to play, but maybe not every game and get to where I did, and I certainly did not expect to get into the Australia team."
His maiden BBL campaign saw him finish as the competition's leading slow bowler, with 21 wickets in 15 games and an economy rate a touch over eight.
Those numbers stacked up pretty well against the vastly more experienced Zampa, who took 19 in 12 games with an economy of 7.35.
And it was understandably Zampa that Sangha gravitated towards on that New Zealand tour.
"We had some very good net sessions, it was very competitive, that's for sure," he says.
"I talked a lot to Zamps and Ash (Agar) about strategies, what they're thinking, how they change between batters, what are their little cues on how they keep themselves focused."
With 10 T20 matches scheduled for Australia in the West Indies and Bangladesh, there should be ample opportunity for Sangha to earn a debut before the T20 World Cup, providing he makes the plane.
But even if it doesn't come, Sangha is very aware that leg-spin is rarely a young player's game, and time is on his side.
"I'm very excited to be part of the selectors' plans, even just to be in the squad and around the environment and learn from the professionals and how they go about it," he says.
"I couldn't ask for anything better at this age than being around the senior team, asking all the senior guys these questions and them helping me develop my game."
And while it's T20 cricket where he's made his name so far, Sangha is targeting a first-class debut for the NSW Blues next summer, having been upgraded to a full contract.
"I want to test myself and challenge myself at that standard, to see what I need to work on with my game," Sangha says.
"I know red-ball cricket is going to be a lot harder, the senior guys all say it's all about setting batters up, being more strategic and being consistent and being better for longer.
"I want to put myself forward for that, to test myself and to grow and adapt."
Qantas Tour of the West Indies & Bangladesh 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa (to be trimmed before departure)
West Indies T20 squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran (vc), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
Second T20: July 10, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 11 9.30am AEST)
Third T20: July 12, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 13, 9.30am AEST)
Fourth T20: July 14, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 15, 9.30am AEST)
Fifth T20: July 16, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 17, 9.30am AEST)
First ODI: July 20, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 21, 4.30am AEST)
Second ODI: July 22, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 23, 4.30am AEST)
Third ODI: July 24, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 25, 4.30am AEST)
Five T20s v Bangladesh to follow, dates and venues TBC