Daniel Sams shapes as Sydney Thunder’s trump card in the Big Bash League finals as he seeks to prove his fitness and return on Sunday.
Sams missed his side’s last three games of the regular season, when they recorded big wins over Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers to shore up a spot in the finals.
The 28-year-old was the leading wicket-taker of the previous BBL season then continued to improve in the ensuing 12 months, making his international and Indian Premier League debut.
Sams’ batting in particular has gone to another level, thanks in no small part to the mentorship of Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting.
The left-armer has been sidelined by concussion and a hand injury during recent weeks, with the club yet to make a call as to whether he will return in this weekend’s elimination final at Manuka Oval.
“He’s progressing well,” coach Shane Bond told AAP.
“He’s pretty hopeful that he’ll be ready for the game.
“It’s exciting for us, we’ve played really well without Dan during the last three games.
“If we get him back, he’ll be a huge boost. It’ll make a big difference and it’d mean that we have a fully fit squad.”
Sams will have to prove he is fit enough to bat to be recalled.
“We want him as an allrounder. He’s important to us and when you get to finals, you have to be able to do the job with the bat,” Bond said.
The Thunder face the winner of Friday night’s clash between fourth-placed Brisbane Heat and fifth-placed Adelaide Strikers.
Bond’s team, having made a run from fifth spot on the ladder to last year’s semi-final, won’t be taking their opposition lightly.
“You can get on a bit of a roll (in finals) … we did that last year, won a few games in a row,” young batsman Oliver Davies said.
“So definitely very cautious of whoever wins that final. They’ll be a big threat.”
Bond is confident the Thunder have the talent and depth to repeat their 2015-16 finals series, when Usman Khawaja’s career-best form helped delivered their first title.
“We’ve got match-winners throughout our side,” the former New Zealand paceman said.
“Every final is a chance for someone to do something great, like Usman did when we last won the title.”