Took me only one net session to figure out Sanju had something extra: Coach
KOCHI: Certain individuals shape a player’s career. For Sanju Samson, coach Biju George has been one such man. Over the years, Biju has been Sanju’s sounding board as he hand-held the most-gifted cricketer to come out of his stable, which functions under Sports Authority of India at Medical College ground, Thiruvananthapuram, through thick and thin.
After having moved from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram, Viswanath Samson went knocking on the doors of several cricket clubs in the state capital to enrol his two cricket-passionate sons, Sanju and his elder brother Sally. During this hunt, they met Sudhir Aly, the current assistant manager of statistics in the BCCI. It was Aly who directed Sanju and Sally to Biju’s cricket academy in 2007. And it didn’t take long for Biju to realize that he was working with someone who had a special talent.
“It took me only one net session to figure out that Sanju had something extra in him. He is extremely hard-working and aggression was his forte right from his young days as a batsman,” said Biju, who recently opted out from seeking a contract extension to his two-year tenure as fielding coach of Indian women’s team.
Though Sanju’s talent was never in question, he showed the abundance of it during an inter-school game. “He used to play for St Joseph’s Higher Secondary School. There was one particular match which I remember vividly. I don’t remember the rival team but the match was played after a torrential downpour. There were puddles on the ground and water was seeping through the matting wicket. Every player on the ground was finding it difficult to get a grip on the surface. But not our boy. He timed the ball ever so sweetly and effortlessly as he hit one six after another. I knew that day that Sanju was destined for greatness,” recalled Biju.
After having been with Sanju for almost 12 years, Biju says he has hardly worked on his protege’s technique. “He is a god-gifted talent. I didn’t do much to change his technique then nor do I do it now,” said Biju.
So where does Biju step in? “My role is to give him confidence. Sometimes he tends to curb his naturally aggressive style. So I remind him what his strength is. For Sanju, it’s all about confidence,” said Biju.
Now that he has regained his place in the Indian squad, Biju has just one request to the selectors and team management. "Please give him a longer run. He is a player who needs your confidence and backing," pleaded Biju.