Sydney Thunder’s Jason Sangha said the opportunities that opened to him at the Club during his breakout campaign last summer made it a ‘no brainer’ to extend his stay with the Thunder Nation until the end of the 2023/24 KFC Big Bash League season.
After spending the previous two summers perched on Thunder’s substitute bench, Sangha proved a revelation throughout BBL|11 when he was given the opportunity by coach Trevor Bayliss to go out and 'express himself'.
The 22-year-old - who was signed in 2016 as Thunder’s Community Rookie when he was a 16-year-old schoolboy - said the time he spent on the bench prepared him for an outstanding BBL|11 in which he finished as the League’s fifth highest runscorer with 445; captured four wickets; claimed nine catches, and captained Thunder on three occasions.
“People would know I had a couple of quiet years here,” said Sangha of the time he spent waiting for his opportunity.
“But I used that time to recoup and realise the elements I needed to add to my game to get the best out of myself in the T20 arena.
“When I look back, it was the honest conversations I had with the coaching staff and my fellow players - along with the work I did in the nets - that helped me grow into the season I had.
“Last summer was really fantastic, and the opportunities I enjoyed with Thunder - knowing I was going to be batting at the position I love in white ball cricket, at No.3, and gaining leadership opportunities - made it a no brainer for me to stay.”
Sangha said he was also motivated to remain in Thunder’s distinctive green battle colours by the club’s commitment to “community connection’, ‘a calm coach’, and a gnawing sense of ‘unfinished business.’
“I’m very proud to be part of Sydney Thunder for another couple of years because it means I belong to a club that does so much for the community it represents,” he said.
“The work Thunder does off the field to connect with the community through such things as the Thunder Nation Cup – it’s a competition which allows people from different backgrounds to connect through playing cricket - is, from what I’ve seen, something other BBL clubs don’t do.
“While we connect with our fans and community, it’s the fans and the community who make playing in the Big Bash so special. And while that was an important reason for me staying, there are others.
“We have a tight group of players who get along extremely well. Sydney Thunder is a united club... the boys’ and girls’ teams work well together... and it’s because of my connection to the club, the players, the coaches, the support staff, our members and fans, that I couldn’t leave.”
Sangha, who has scored a total of 623 runs from his 24 BBL appearances, admitted he felt a sense of ‘unfinished business’ and that he wanted Thunder to go the extra step after threatening to break through to play in the last two title deciders.
“There’s definitely some unfinished business,” said Sangha.
“I saw what it took to win our first BBL title in BBL|05 - and that was a long time ago.
“We have an exciting future with so much young and exciting talent in our team with players like Ollie Davies and Tanveer Sangha, it’s a nice time to be a part of Sydney Thunder; to help build it into something special. I realised I really wanted to be a part of that when the club offered me a new deal.”
Sangha said he was excited by the prospect of again playing under coach Trevor Bayliss, saying his “clarity and calmness” was invaluable.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to come back was because of the clarity and calmness ‘TB’ brings,” he said.
“He’s obviously a very experienced - and successful - coach, and his resume speaks for itself.
“He gives you the freedom to express yourself, but at the same time he’s the first person to come to you when you need to hear some honest advice; feedback.
“That brand of player-coach relationship is something I’ve never experienced before, and what I appreciated is he understands the importance of clear and calm communication.”
Head of Thunder, Andrew Gilchrist, welcomed Sangha’s decision to remain with the Club, saying he was a player who brought many positives to the team.
“Jason proved a lot last summer,” said Gilchrist.
“He proved he has worked hard in the time he waited for his shot, and when that opportunity arrived, he certainly backed himself.
“He finished the BBL summer with 445 runs, the most by a Thunder player and the fifth best in the League. He has a great attitude, and Jason also displayed his leadership qualities when he was called upon to captain the team on three occasions.
“Thunder’s young fans have embraced him, and he is aware of the responsibility that comes with that. While he has been around for a long time Jason is only 22 and growing into the type of player teams can be built around.”
The BBL fixture will be announced on Thursday, with tickets for this summer’s Thunder WBBL and BBL matches on-sale to the public at 2pm, August 18 (AEST).
Thunder BBL Memberships will be available soon. Be the first in line by registering your interest here.
Seven will televise 45 KFC BBL matches – including all Finals – of this summer’s 61 games. Each game will once again be available on Foxtel and Kayo, while additional coverage will be provided by SEN.