19-year-old Tanveer Sangha has received his maiden call-up to Australia’s squad for the forthcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand starting February 22. The leg-spinner became only the second Indian-origin player to be a part of the senior Aussie side.
While players like Jason Sangha (no relation with Tanveer), Arjun Nair and Param Uppal have played domestic or under-19 cricket for Australia, Tanveer Sangha became the second Indian-origin name after Gurinder Sandhu to make the elite grade.
Sangha himself expressed disbelief over his selection in the 18-member contingent.
“I was over the moon when I got the call. It took a while for it to sink in...I did not expect to be selected at such a young age,” Tanveer Sangha, who is the third-highest wicket-taker in the ongoing BBL with 21 wickets from 13 matches, told TOI on Thursday.
Joga Singh Sangha, Tanveer’s father, was a farmer in Jalandhar before relocating to Sydney in 1997 on student visa. While Joga has been working as a taxi driver ever since, his wife, Upneet, is an accountant. Quite surprisingly, Tanveer didn’t follow cricket until he was 10 years old.
“Tanveer is a natural sportsperson. He played volleyball, rugby and kabaddi growing up. When Tanveer was 10, he showed interest in cricket. By the time he was 12, I got him to play in local adult cricket teams,” Joga Singh Sangha revealed.
After representing Australia at the 2020 U-19 World Cup, Tanveer Sangha landed his maiden BBL contract with the Sydney Thunder. One door led to another, and the teenager is now all set to make his Australia debut.
Fawad Ahmed has been my mentor since 2018, says Tanveer Sangha
All great structures need strong foundations. Similarly, Tanveer Sangha is now reaping rewards of being the alumnus of a school which has the history of producing champion athletes.
“The school I attended, East Hills Boys High School, was the same that Steve and Mark Waugh had gone to. Olympic gold-medallist swimmer Ian Thorpe, too. It gave me access to a good cricket club,” Tanveer Sangha stated.
But he first received recognition in 2018 when Pakistani-origin leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed spotted him in Melbourne, and has been his mentor ever since.
“This was during the second or third game of the under-16 series against Pakistan. Since that day, he [Fawad Ahmed – who played for the Sydney Thunder till 2018] has been my mentor,” Tanveer Sangha revealed.
After initially starting off as a fast bowler, Tanveer Sangha shifted to leg-spin on his father’s advice. Notably, he was Australia’s highest wicket-taker – 15 wickets at an average of 11.47 in six games – at the World Cup in South Africa at the start of last year.
“He is a very good batsman. He batted five times in the under-19 World Cup and had a strike-rate of 85.26. To avoid a shoulder injury, I suggested he take up spin bowling instead of pace bowling,” Joga Singh Sangha concluded.
For now, Tanveer Sangha has his focus on the BBL 10 Knockout match scheduled for Sunday (January 31).