Sydney Thunder’s season ended on a bittersweet note on Saturday night, with a four-wicket win over minor premiers the Hobart Hurricanes not enough to secure a semi-finals berth.
However young batsman Jason Sangha says the group, which has experienced significant change in the last 12 months including a new coach and nine additions to the squad, is confident they can go one better next season.
“After the game we spoke about the season and how we played some good cricket and also how there were some games where we thought we could’ve played better,” Sangha said this week.
“We know that when we do play our best cricket, we can beat anyone.
“Obviously we had a new group this year with lots new faces, including myself. I think for the new guys, it was a massive learning experience.
“We learnt so much about what works for us and what doesn’t work for us, and that is really going to hold us in good stead next season.”
The 19-year-old enjoyed a dream debut at Manuka Oval, scoring a 36-ball 63 to help Thunder secure an opening round win.
“It was pretty surreal. Definitely a nice way to start off the year. After that I just couldn’t wait for the rest of the season,” he said.
Sangha, who is committed to Thunder for the next two seasons, spent majority of the season batting at No. 5, before being promoted to open with Shane Watson.
It didn’t always go exactly to plan, but he understands that the experience is invaluable for his development.
“It was very up and down in terms of my individual performances. Obviously I had that great game at Manuka Oval and then a couple of low scores but finally found my feet again against the (Adelaide) Strikers and (Melbourne) Renegades,” Sangha said.
“It took me a long time, and even still now, to figure out how I play T20 cricket best. But I’ve learnt a lot that I think will hold me in good shape for next season.
“Every game, I wanted to go out there and have a really good game with the bat but sometimes the situation didn’t allow me to do that and I think it took me a while to understand.
“Some games I had to go out there and try to hit every ball for six. Maybe that meant I got out quickly but that was what was required for the team.”
One of three teenage debutants this season, Sangha is grateful for the immense support of the senior players in the side.
“The knowledge that was passed down from the older guys was fantastic. The support we had was brilliant. They helped us make sure that we weren’t worrying about past performances and made sure that we were understanding what we needed to do to be ready for the next game,” he said.
“I wanted consistency but they just kept reinforcing that sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days, and when you have good days, try to make the most of the opportunity.”
He is now a regular fixture of the Thunder line up but it wasn’t long ago that Sangha, who grew up supporting Thunder, was on the other side of the fence.
“I really enjoyed it when the players would come out and sign my mini bat or shirt so I try to give back as much as I can,” he said.
“And I know what it feels like when players go out of their way to start a conversation, you feel like you have a personal connection so I tried to make sure I got to know the fans on a bit more of a personal note, especially at Spotless Stadium where you tend to see familiar faces.
“I just wanted to make sure I thanked them all for being massive supporters of us.”
Sangha's focus now shifts to red-ball cricket – “from trying to hit everything for six, to blocking every ball” – with the JLT Sheffield Shield set to resume on Saturday 23 February.