Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams has revealed the advice he got from Black Caps coach Gary Stead that stuck with him throughout his career.
Sams began his professional career with Canterbury during Stead's coaching tenure and was one of Australia's best performers on his return to Hagley Oval on Monday, claiming the key wickets of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson in his first two overs, which put the Black Caps in early trouble.
Despite Australia's eventual defeat, Sams says returning to where he made his first-class debut was a special moment.
"I was really excited for that first game," he said. "That was cool to be able to come back and play there against New Zealand and see some of the guys that I played with at Canterbury and some of the sports staff over there. That was special."
In 2017, Sams answered a call from Canterbury Cricket to join the team in the Plunket Shield as an injury replacement, an opportunity he took with both hands.
"I was playing a second XI game for New South Wales and our selector came up to me and said Canterbury Cricket have contacted NSW asking for a bowler.
"Of course I was more than happy to go and play first-class cricket so I went over there and played two games ... I went back home and they actually called me back again to play in Auckland. It was good fun.
"The standard of first-class cricket here [in New Zealand] was higher than any that I had played before."
During that time, Sams says he received a piece of advice from Stead – who was Canterbury coach before taking the New Zealand job in 2018 – that still helps him to this day.
"I just remember before I went into bat in the first game he just said to me 'just make sure you go out there and be free and bat the way that you think you need to bat in this situation'.
"That's kind of stuck with me throughout my career so far because it just frees me up and enables me to evaluate the situation and play how I think the situation needs to be played out."
It didn't quite work out as planned in the first T20 of the series, where Sams – playing just his third international – was dismissed by Ish Sodhi for one, but he knows his side can produce a better batting display against the Black Caps in Dunedin tomorrow afternoon.
"The result didn't go our way but I think we did a lot of good stuff, particularly early on in our bowling innings.
"The New Zealand guys just bowled really well, had the ball moving and just kind of caught us off-guard a little bit.
"Coming into the next game we're looking to just stick to what we do and play our positive form of cricket … We're still going to have to execute the same plans or whatever plans that we have changed from that first game.
"We may have to wake up a little bit earlier."