He is 19-years-old, stands six-foot three inches tall, his hero is England’s all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and a few days ago he won the Steve Waugh Medal for the best NSW player of 2012-13.
He is Gurinder Sandhu.
Of Indian origin but born in Blacktown, he has was pivotal in NSW’s Sheffield Shield defeat of South Australia in mid-March on the Sydney Cricket Ground, thanks to his 4 for 58 and 3 for 20 as a fast-medium swinger. He also scored 45 valuable runs.
This was only his second first-class match and he played with assurance. To cap it all, he was man of the match.
In his Sheffield Shield debut a week earlier he captured 5 for 31 and 2 for 57 against Victoria.
Thus, in only two first-class matches, he claimed 14 wickets at an impressive average of 11.85.
He also represented Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League earlier this year.
Australia’s performance in India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was so pathetic, losing 0-4, that there are whispers Gurinder may be picked for Australia in the Ashes series in England.
Will it be too early to blood him? Will he break down like Pat Cummins, who was thrown in the Test fold at 18 (and like other Aussie quicks who crack up at the drop of a bail despite the rotation policy)?
Based on my enjoyable chat with him, Gurinder appears well-proportioned, like a Sikh warrior who won’t say die.
I first asked why he bats left-handed but bowls right-arm fast-medium.
“I started playing backyard cricket with my father, who is also my mentor. He bats right-handed and bowls left-arm like Michael Clarke, so I did the opposite as a child. And the habit stuck!”
So are there any other cricketers in the family?
“My younger brother Harmon shows promise and represents his club for under-15s.”
Still a teenager and with only a handful of games for NSW, what are your cricket achievements?
“I scored a few centuries when I played under-15s, my highest score being 147 not out.
“In a first grade match I took a hat-trick for Fairfield-Liverpool against Manly.
“But the great thrill was being selected for Australia in the under-19 World Cup staged in Australia last year. We entered the final but lost to India.
Who coached you?
“Test cricketers Craig McDermott and Stuart Law, among others. It was a privilege learning from them.”
Your most memorable moment?
“Getting the baggy blue last month to represent NSW in Sheffield Shield from skipper Ben Rohrer, and then taking seven wickets in that match against Victoria including a five-fer in the first innings.”
“He is England’s all-rounder Andrew Flintoff. I hope to play like him one day.”
One step at a time, Gurinder.