Thunder skipper Chris Green has described great mate Daniel Sams as “the ultimate team man” after the big-hitting all-rounder’s man of the match performance lifted the side to a narrow win over the Heat that has them back in finals contention.
It was a rough start to the tournament for the Thunder with players getting injured, another had his contract torn up and they had to deal with on field struggles that saw them bowled out for an embarrassing 15 by the Strikers.
But they’ve now won back-to-back games over Brisbane to move within one win of top spot on the BBL ladder, and a lot of credit has to go to Sams.
The 30-year-old showed why he’s played on the international stage, hammering an unbeaten 36 off just 15 deliveries in a crucial knock that proved telling in the Thunder’s 11-run win after Colin Munro smashed 98 in the chase.
It was a far cry from the man who scored just 10 runs in his first three knocks of the season where he seemed to be holding back the aggression that saw him whack an unbeaten 98 off 44 last season.
“Any time he’s overdue in runs, it makes him more and more dangerous for opposition,” Green said.
“He came in and played an absolutely quality knock for us to get up to a really formidable total that put the Heat under pressure from the word go.
“I thought Colin Munro – full credit to him – was absolutely outstanding and batted all the way through and nearly took them over the line. But Sams’ knock took the game away from the opposition. It was crucial in getting us over the line.”
Sams then took two wickets and held onto the catch to remove Munro in the final over to cap his incredible night.
“He’s the ultimate team man,” Green said.
“He’s always the guy who’s looking to put the team first and go out there and play the role that’s required for the team whether that’s taking the game on and taking risks (with the bat) in our favour, and same with the ball.
“I throw him into the hard overs so he bowls in the surge a lot, he bowls at the death and he takes it on the chin. He gets hit at times but that’s the nature of T20 cricket.
“There are so many games where he comes up clutch for us and he’s gone from strength to strength every year. I’m stoked to have him in the team.”
The Thunder are now up to six competition points ahead of the New Year’s Eve clash against the Hurricanes in Albury, where Green is hoping to see plenty of green in the crowd.
“They’re playing really good cricket at the moment,” he said of the Hurricanes.
“They’re always one of the form teams in this competition and they’ve got some dangerous players with both bat and ball. We know going down there that we’ve got to be on our ‘A’ game to continue this winning run.
“We’d like to turn it into a home venue for us and get a little hometown bias in our favour with the crowd.”