Jason Sangha, the Australia captain, looked at the hard knock his team took in the final as part of their learning experience as professional cricketers. He was gracious in defeat, happy to credit India’s brilliance and pick up lessons from their success story to better his own game. The occasion was perhaps the biggest of his nascent career so far, and he wasn’t going to be sulking.
“I may never play in a World Cup again, but it has taught me what it is to be a professional cricketer at a world tournament,” he said. “I’ve personally learnt a lot about other players and what they have done. Guys like Shubman (Gill) and Prithvi (Shaw) are such fine manipulators of the ball. They can hit the ball to any part of the ground. That is why they’re such good batsmen.
“I’ve learnt from them. We’ve also seen how India bowlers bowl here and how we go about it back home. We have learnt from the opposition. You can’t really define one or two things, but definitely we’ve all learnt a lot watching other players.”
After over a month of playing in a World Cup, this was Sangha’s moment to reflect what his team did right and how they overcame tough challenges – none more so than the quarter-final against England, when they defended 128. However, he did concede that India outplayed Australia in the final, bowling them out for 218.
“The best thing about this tournament is it’s always a learning curve. We are all teenagers and we are going to make a few mistakes but I’m proud of the guys,” Sangha said. “Full credit to India. I thought probably 250 would have been a better score. India found ways to win key moments. As a captain, it was hard to set fields for the kind of batsmen India have, but I’m proud of some of our guys, especially Jonathan Merlo to fight through and make 76. Param Uppal too was superb. Popey (Lloyd Pope) got us here with that spell against England, so yes, it’s fantastic.”
Sangha also touched on life lessons and having to deal with the pressures associated with being a modern-day cricketer. You could sense the feeling of awe as he gushed about receiving messages of support from Steven Smith and members of the Australian team.
“I think it’s the media, that is probably the best part,” he said with a laugh. “It’s just really cool to know what it is to be a professional cricketer. At the start of the tournament, I got a message from Steven Smith and that was an amazing feeling for us to hear from such a big cricketer.
“I just loved the tournament, the mateship I made on the field and the mateship off it, especially with those from some of the other teams, will be the best thing for me. Cricket is a gentleman’s game and the best part about it is you make many friends. I don’t know if I will ever get the opportunity to play in a World Cup, but I’ve embraced it and soaked it all in.”
But now it is time to take fresh guard. “Funnily enough, I haven’t even applied for university.” Sangha said. “I might have to get that sorted out (laughs). The last three-four months have been a massive roller-coster ride. We trained so hard for this, hours and hours, so much blood, sweat and toil and to see now that it’s all over, it feels different.
“I can’t really explain how it feels, but now it’s time to get into first year university, I guess. Also, go back and play with New South Wales, Future’s Legue Cricket and hopefully another Under-19 tournament in December. I love playing for my country, it’s been an amazing privilege. Now, it’s time to go home and see friends and family.”