After missing the last three matches for Sydney Thunder because of a hand injury, star all-rounder Dan Sams has been cleared to play in Sunday night’s sudden death KFC Big Bash League Knockout Final against the Brisbane Heat.
Sams suffered a bone and tendon injury in his right hand after he fell awkwardly while fielding the ball off his own bowling in the January 18 match against the Hobart Hurricanes at Manuka Oval.
After being put through his paces at yesterday's training session, Sams received the green light to play in tomorrow night’s pressure-packed match against the Heat in Canberra.
“Dan is good to go, which is exciting for us,” said Thunder’s coach Shane Bond. “He trained fully yesterday and looked good, so he’ll come back into our team.”
Bond said he and assistant coaches Shawn Bradstreet and John Davison paid close attention to how Sams' hand handled a tough session in the batting nets.
“His batting was the main thing we looked at,” said Bond. “There’s always a couple of risks that are associated with an injured hand, so the main concern was his batting. The good news is he had no problems and is ready to go.”
Sams' return is a huge boost for Thunder. After making his debut for Australia's national T20 team in December, he has dominated the BBL with his big hitting, and wicket-taking prowess.
At the time of injuring his hand, Sams, who was named as an X-factor in this summer's BBL Team of the Tournament, had captured 10 wickets with the ball at 22.90. However, his batting has stepped up to another level this season with his scoring 199 runs at 49.75 - and with an impressive strike-rate of 191.
“That was the doctor's orders,” said Sams of his three-match stint on the sideline.
“But, he also said along with that if I had some strength and movement at training after that little bit of a break that I'd be good to go. Training has gone pretty well so far, so good to go for tomorrow's game.
“All the stuff that I needed to yesterday, I was able to tick it off without any problems really. We're actually a little bit surprised with how good it's turned out.”
Sams confirmed that based on how he felt during his net session the injury would not have any impact on his batting.
“There's a little bit of awareness of pain,” he said. “But, I'll be able to go out there and bat as I usually would.”
With the complete squad now at his disposal, Bond said he now had the “pleasant” headache of deciding tomorrow night’s playing eleven.
“It’s a good headache,” he said. “It’s nice to have a fully fit squad at this time of the season. It’s an unusual situation, but it’s definitely welcome.”
Bond said he and his players watched last night’s Eliminator between the Heat and Adelaide Strikers fully aware of their mission tomorrow night.
“It really would have made no difference whether we played the Heat or Strikers because at the end of the day we’ll need two wins for a shot at the title,” said Bond.
“The Heat are a dangerous team, they played well against us in both games we’ve played during the regular season so we’ll need to be on song. History shows Thunder-Heat is always a tough match, it’s always a bit feisty – but, it should be good.”
Bond said it was a comfort for him to realise how much his squad has improved since qualifying for last year’s Challenger final after finishing the competition in fifth place.
“I think we have a better all-round squad,” he said. “Some of the players have definitely improved – our fast bowler Brendan Doggett is a perfect example of that.
“In terms of our bowling I think in the last three games we’ve started to really see our game plan come to fruition because we’ve bowled really well. If we can do that again in this game it will be great.
“Our batting has been good and consistent throughout the tournament, but it’s tremendous to see that our bowling has picked up.”
Fans across the Thunder Nation can watch the Knockout Final live on 7, Fox Cricket and Kayo, with radio coverage from SEN.
Sydney Thunder Squad vs Brisbane Heat at Manuka Oval (31/01/2021)
Callum Ferguson (12) (C)
Sam Billings (7)
Jonathan Cook (50)
Ben Cutting (31)
Ollie Davies (9)
Brendan Doggett (35)
Matt Gilkes (22)
Chris Green (93)
Alex Hales (6)
Baxter Holt (27)
Usman Khawaja (18)
Nathan McAndrew (44)
Adam Milne (10)
Arjun Nair (24)
Alex Ross (49)
Daniel Sams (60)
Jason Sangha (32)
Tanveer Sangha (17)
Chris Tremain (20)