Photo Credit: Sydney Thunder
Despite signing a new deal which ties him to Sydney Thunder for the next two years, Gurinder Sandhu said he’d continue to bowl in the KFC Big Bash League as though his career was still on the ropes.
Sandhu had an outstanding BBL|11 in Thunder’s distinctive green battle colours, capturing 18 wickets in 11 matches – including a hattrick against Perth Scorchers – at a phenomenal strike rate of 13.
However, the former international revealed ‘being in the best form of my career’ was powered by the fear that last summer represented his last crack at the big time.
“At the beginning of last season, it felt like I was on my last chance,” said Sandhu, who is lining up for his ninth season in Thunder’s colours.
“The year before I was delisted for a state contract, and a week before the BBL started I picked up a replacement contract with the Sydney Sixers, for which I was extremely thankful.
“Last summer was the same. Sydney Thunder offered me a BBL contract just two months before the season started, and that hit me hard. I realised everything came down to me showing what I can do.
“Even though I had no idea of whether I’d get a game, I made sure I ticked all the boxes I needed to. My mindset was simple: if I was picked to play for Thunder, I was going to step onto the field knowing I was ready to go.”
Sandhu – who received the Steve Waugh Medal as the NSW cricket team’s player of the year when he was a rookie 19-year-old, and who represented the 2015 Australia One Day team in two Internationals – said he had recently made a telling observation about his career.
“For the majority of my career I’ve had to find form; fight my way back into the team, and I’ve had to fight for contracts,” he said. “What I’ve taken from that is I do have a strong sense of self- belief – and a desire to succeed.
“That’s why I train hard in the nets and at the gym; do my recovery from injuries . . . get my ‘rehab’ done.
“I was thankful for the opportunity Sydney Thunder and [coach] Trevor Bayliss gave me last summer. I knew I could do what I did, I just needed the chance to show people I could do it. This year I’m approaching the BBL with a different mindset: I want to do better than last summer.”
Sandhu said he was motivated by the dream of forcing his way back into Australia’s national team, and he planned to use a strong campaign with Thunder to state his case.
“Doing well for Sydney Thunder is my main focus,” said Sandhu, who grew up in the city’s western suburbs, the heart of Thunder Nation. “But, I definitely want to play for my country again.
“I turned 29 in June and I’m coming into my peak. I know my body well; I have experienced a lot in the field and been through any number of scenarios. I feel as though I’m in a good spot, and I want to keep delivering for Thunder.
Sandhu recalled one of the most welcome aspects of last summer was the “mutual understanding” between Bayliss and himself.
“I had Trevor as my coach – and his assistant [coach] Chandika Hathurusinghe – when I first started at NSW,” he said. “We understand each other; how we work, how we communicate and how the other responds to it.
“It is based on respect. I also appreciate that Trevor allows his players to express themselves. I like that, under Trevor, I can be myself and can enjoy working towards my goals.”
Head of Sydney Thunder Andrew Gilchrist said besides providing the bowling attack with his outstanding skills set, Sandhu also represented the diversity in Thunder Nation.
“Gurinder had an outstanding 2021/22 summer for Sydney Thunder and also his adopted state, Queensland,” said Gilchrist. “He consistently proved himself in all conditions and against top quality opposition.
“However, as someone who was born Sydney’s western suburbs, and whose father emigrated from India to provide his family with opportunities, Gurinder truly represents a strong part of Thunder Nation.
“He’s a genuine crowd favourite, and as a valued member of Thunder we look forward to seeing him achieve the goals he’s set himself.”
Sydney Thunder BBL|12 Home Fixtures
Tue 13 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars | Manuka Oval | 7:15pm
Fri 16 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 8:15pm
Tue 27 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat | Sydney Showground Stadium | 7:15pm
Sat 31 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Hobart Hurricanes | Lavington Sports Ground | 3:30pm
Sun 8 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 7:15pm
Fri 13 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 6:30pm
Thu 19 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades | Manuka Oval | 7:15pm