After the likes of Gurinder Sandhu for Australia and Ish Sodhi for New Zealand, another player of Indian origin and hailing from Punjab is making the waves in the international scene but on foreign shores. Simranjit Singh has made it into the Ireland first team following consistent show in the domestic cricket. Next up on his agenda is fulfilling a long term dream of playing a Test match.
Simranjit, known as Simi in Ireland, made his international debut against New Zealand in May this year. Boosted by his show in the first class cricket, he has been named in the lone ODI against West Indies on Wednesday. His next target, though, is to play Test cricket with Ireland granted Test status by ICC on June 22. “Although, I didn’t play international cricket for India, hopefully, I’ll play my first Test for Ireland soon,” Simi told Times of India, from Dublin.
He represented Punjab at the U-14 and U-17 level; and amassed 725 runs in 2004 in the state inter-district U-17 championship. However, he was overlooked for the U19 side by the selectors. The decision came as a rude awakening and a frustrating time for him and his family. “He (Simaranjit) was named the best player at the 46th National School Games held in Vijayawada in 2001,” father Amarjit Singh said.
“It was a frustrating time for me and my family. My dream to play for India was nipped in the bud,” Simi recollects. “He was hardworking, he was treated badly here (in Punjab). Simi didn’t get the chance to prove his mettle at the U-19 level,” says Bharti Vij, Simaranjit’s coach. “He was an opening batsman with a sound technique,” he adds.
He moved to Ireland in 2005 to pursue hotel management. There a friend suggested he play and study at the same time. For that, Simi worked at a grocery store in order to afford paying five pounds a game. “I would play cricket on the weekend by paying five pounds per game. I worked at a grocery store so that I could afford to pay to play cricket,” he recalls.
In 2008 he returned to India to give trials in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab but failed to make it to the first team. A year prior, he played professionally in Dublin for the Malahide Cricket Club. After being given work visa by Old Balverydale Cricket Club, he returned to Dublin in 2009 and played with them for three years. In 2012, he joined YMCA Cricket Club.
“In 2015, I shifted to provincial team Leinster Lighting and have been playing for the team since then. Playing alongside the likes of Kevin O’Brien, John Anderson and George Dockrell has helped my game. Earlier, I used to bat a bit slow, but O’Brien told me to inject aggression in my game,” he states.
Amid tough residency rules in the UK, Simi’s ECB Level 2 coaching degree and a certified personal trainer role saw him stay in the country. In May, he got citizenship in Ireland.