Frustrated that his cricket career was going nowhere, 18-year-old Simranjit Singh, aka Simi Singh, from Mohali, Punjab, packed his bags to Ireland in 2005 to pursue hotel management.
Very little did Simi know that fate had anything else in store for him, for cricket also followed him to Ireland. He came to know that he could pursue his cricket and academics at the same time. So in 2006 he joined the Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin as a professional.
Cut to the present; life came around for the Mohali-born cricketer. He scored his first international century against South Africa on the same ground where his cricket journey in Ireland began.
It was really an emotional blow. At that point, after completing my century, I saw my entire journey in flashback. Scoring a century on this ground, where it all started, will stay with me forever, Simi Singh told IndiaToday.In from Dublin.
The most satisfying thing about the knock was that it came against the likes of Nortje (Anrich), Shamsi (Tabraiz) and Maharaj (Keshav), a top-class South African attack. In addition, my success rate was also good, Singh added.
Interestingly, one of Simis’s Irish teammate, Harry Tector, was his apprentice when he was a coach at the YMCA Cricket Club in Dublin.
Harry was 12 when he joined the academy of the YMCA Cricket Club. I was his coach, and then I was the one who handed him his debut cap. It’s been quite a journey, Singh said.
The milestone man
Simi Singh scored an unbeaten 100 against South Africa in the third ODI at Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin. Simis’ effort was not enough, however, as South Africa defeated Ireland by 70 runs to end the series 1-1.
However, Simi Singh set a record when he became the first-ever cricketer to score an ODI century at number 8 or below. He surpassed England’s Sam Curran, who scored a brave 95 against India in Pune earlier this year.
South Africa wins 3rd ODI in Malahide
Simi Singh’s first ODI century, the highest ever ODI score by a number 8, proves to be a futile effort as the series stands at 1-1.
ICC (@ICC) July 16, 2021
Simi has played 30 ODIs and 24 T20Is for Ireland since making his international debut in 2017 against New Zealand.
Earlier this year, in February against the UAE, Simi set another world record. The all-rounder scored a solid 54 not out and went on to deliver one of the most economical five-wicket runs in ODI history. Simis 5 for 10 was the fifth most economical five-wicket haul in ODI history. The top four in the list are — West Indies Courtney Walsh (5 for 1 against Sri Lanka in 1986), Indian duo Sunil Joshi (5 for 6 against South Africa in 1999) and Stuart Binny (6 for 4 against Bangladesh in 2014), followed by Muttiah Muralidharan from Sri Lanka (5 for 9 against New Zealand in 2002).
Simi Singh, the batter
Simi, who has successfully represented Punjab at the U-14 and U-17 levels, was known for his percussion. In 2004, he scored 725 runs in the state inter-district U-17 championship. He was even named best player at the 46th National School Games held in 2001 in Vijayawada.
Despite being a consistent performer, Simi failed to make the U-19 level cut for Punjab.
Simi Singh celebrates after scoring his century (Courtesy of Cricket Ireland)
Before Thursday, Simi each had only half a century in the ODIs and T20I cricket. He was on the team for his off-spin bowling. Interestingly, he was a part-time bowler in his early days.
I started giving myself more time. For example, when I got to the third ODI we were 92 to 6. So I took my time to settle down and then started playing my natural game, Singh said.
After his brilliant turns, Simi is hopeful that in the T20I series against South Africa, which starts from July 19, the team management will promote him a little higher.
Hopefully I can hit a little higher in the coming matches, he said.
From Mohali to Dublin
It hasn’t all been hunky-dory for him in Ireland. With strict residency rules, Simis ECB Level 2 coaching diploma and a certified personal trainer helped him stay afloat in Ireland.
Simi juggled work and cricket, even working in a supermarket so that he could afford to play cricket, as he played at the Malahide Cricket Club every weekend; one had to pay five euros per game.
Looking back, it inspires me to excel more. Those are the days I cherish the most, Simi recalls.
For over 12 years, Simi would toil hard, rack up runs and take wickets in Ireland’s domestic cricket until he was granted Irish citizenship and eligible to play for Ireland in May 2017.
Simi, who started bowling off-spin after seeing Saqlain Mushtaq’s videos, went on to take 56 wickets in the Leinster Senior Cup, Ireland’s first division tournament for the club in 2013. He also scored 786 runs in the club’s title win. . .
At cricket in Ireland
The Irish cricket team has always punched above their weight. They have never been go-getter. Whether it’s their historic World Cup wins against Pakistan in 2007 and their arch-rival England in the 2011 edition, or they recently beat South Africa by 43 runs in the second ODI.
What Ireland lacked, however, was consistency. But Simi thinks the current crop of Irish cricketers will be more successful, and he pointed to some reasons to support his argument.
Our fielding standard has gone up. In the ODI series we even outperformed South Africa. There is more focus on fitness.
We consistently play against the top teams and that has certainly helped. There is no fear factor in this team. We are no longer impressed by opponents.
Finally, Ireland does not depend solely on one cricketer. This team does not rely on people like Paul Sterling or Kevin OBrien, Simi said.
After the series in South Africa, Ireland will play a white-ball series against Zimbabwe from August 6. Ireland will play three ODIs and 5 T20Is against Zimbabwe.
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