When Punjab-born cricketer Simi Singh (33) claimed five wickets for ten runs for Ireland against UAE in the last match of the ODI series at Abu Dhabi last month, it was the third most economical ‘five-for’ spell bowled in this century with India’s Stuart Binny (6 wickets for 4 runs against Bangladesh in 2014) and Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (5 wickets for 9 runs against New Zealand in 2002) ahead of Singh in that list.
The Mohali cricketer, who is an Irish citizen now, also bagged his first Man of the Match award with a half-century and five wickets in the match. Singh, who also played in the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan which finished earlier last week, now has played in a total of 50 List A matches for Ireland including 24 ODI and 24 T20 Internationals.
“To play 50 List A matches for Ireland has been one of the best moments of my career as a professional cricketer and I was delighted with the Man of the Match award. When I was bowling, I did not think about the spell or the feat. But when I returned to the dressing room, I was told about it being the third best five-for spell in this century. As a player, one never thinks about such things but to achieve that is every bowler’s dream and I am glad that I could help my team win. To play in my 50th List A game for Ireland this week is a special feeling too,” shared Singh, while speaking with The Indian Express from UAE.
Son of Amarjit Singh, a Punjabi teacher at a government school in Chandigarh, Simi shifted to Ireland for studies on the insistence of his long-time friend Gauravjeet Singh Sandhu in 2006 and played professional cricket for clubs like Malahide CC, Old Balverydale CC and YMCA CC in the Leinster Senior Cup and after some prolific performances in the Ireland domestic circuit, the all-rounder got his maiden call-cup for Ireland in 2017, two months after he became an Irish citizen.
The last four years have seen Simi playing 24 ODI and 24 T20I matches apart from two four-day matches against Netherlands and Scotland.
With Covid-19 stopping the international cricket activities from March till June last year, it also meant that Ireland’s away tour to Zimbabwe and home series against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan got cancelled before the Ireland team played a three ODI series against England in August last year before playing against UAE and Afghanistan this year.
Singh shared his experience of playing international cricket in the bio bubble.
“Last one year has been tough for everybody. Luckily for us, it did not take long to resume International cricket. I played for YMCA Club when cricket activities resumed in Ireland and Cricket Ireland supported us financially as well regarding training facilities. Playing in England was bit tough as we took some time getting used to play at stadiums. Having played three series in bio bubble, I can say it’s bit tough mentally as sometimes it can feel like a prison but then we are lucky in a way that we are doing what we love to do and play professionally,” shared Singh.
The all-rounder, who has 377 runs and 28 wickets in ODIs and 207 runs and 21 wickets in T20 Internationls for Ireland, has been training under Ireland head coach Graham Thorpe and bowling coach Stuart Barnes and last one year has also seen the off-spinner experimenting with leg-spin.
Ireland has also qualified for this year’s T20 World Cup to be held in India later this year and Singh is hopeful of making the cut.
“I have been spending time on my batting apart from bowling a lot to get back the rhythm. The focus has been to better the revolutions on the ball and I have also been working on wrist spin apart from leg-spin and googly as well. I am also aiming for more turn and off-spin for T20s and I am looking forward to seal my spot in the Ireland team for the T20 World Cup. I played in the T20 series against Afghanistan in Noida last year and that was the last time, I met my parents. Hopefully, they can watch me play in the World Cup this year,” shared Singh.
Singh also followed the Indian team’s historic 2-1 win over Australia in the Border-Gavaskar trophy last month. “The whole Ireland team saw the match in the dressing room after a practice session and it was a historic win for the Indian team. For India to win the series despite so many injuries speaks of the huge effort and a big congrats for the whole Indian team,” concluded Singh.