When I debuted for the Singapore Indian Association (SIA) 1st division Cricket team in 2007 as their first choice wicket keeper and a lower order southpaw, 5 divisions and roughly 25-30 teams existed in the Singapore domestic circuit. Today, there are more than 150 teams spread over numerous SCA (Singapore Cricket Association) and non-SCA leagues in the country.
When so much importance is placed on the development of the game, it is no surprise that at some point, positive results would automatically follow. Singapore beating Zimbabwe in the T-20 tri-series held in Singapore in Sep-Oct 2019 is one such example.
How much has Cricket grown in Singapore?
I vividly remember my first Cricket experience in Singapore in 2007, when I got the opportunity to play a practice game for the Singapore Indian Association team, at their ground in Balestier road, near Little India. At that time, it was a surprise to me that so much Cricket even existed in the country! But looking at the extent at which the sport has grown, makes me swell with pride that I too contributed in some capacity to that growth over the last 12 years as a player, coach and an umpire.
In 2007, there were 4 Clubs divisions and 1 Institutional teams division as part of the SCA National Cricket league. Yes you read that right, there actually was a league dedicated just to educational institutions in the country such as NUS, NTU, SMU etc, and was called the Institutional league! Today, there are officially 7 SCA Clubs divisions, 2 SCA Corporate divisions, numerous SCA and non-SCA leagues solely dedicated for youth, a host of other private leagues for adults (men and women), and in excess of 150 different teams! This growth has automatically resulted in more number of grounds, better facilities, greater impetus on the development of match officials, and a stark improvement in the standard of Cricket played across the country.
It has not just been the players and facilities that have improved in this time, but also the usually ignored facet of the game – the match officials! When I made my debut as an official Singapore Cricket umpire in 2008, there were hardly 20 umpires in the league that featured week in and week out at the games. Today, there are in excess of 100, plying their trade through the week at various grounds across the country. The system of generating new umpires and scorers every year, and getting them past the entry examinations and into the grounds has been functioning methodically throughout. A lot more is expected in the future in this domain, and I really hope we see some of these match officials progressing to the higher levels in the Sport.
Singapore v Zimbabwe, August 2019
Singapore has been lurking around at the World Cricket stage for a considerable amount of time, but only recently started delivering results in a consistent fashion. So, when they got ready to face Zimbabwe in the tri-series at home, a lot was expected out of them from their home fans. This game came just a few days after a heavy defeat at the hands of Nepal in the same tournament. So, producing a good performance at home became paramount. And boy did they deliver!
It has been written and spoken in many places that the win over Zimbabwe was a huge deal. Yes, beating a test nation is indeed a big achievement, even though Zimbabwe were without a handful of their first choice players. But, having witnessed Cricket develop in front of my eyes in Singapore, I’d like to look at this in a different way. With Singapore having seen so much growth over the years, positive results were bound to occur at some point. Instead of looking at this as a big surprise, I look at it as a simple equation between effort and result – the more the effort, the better the result. And that’s exactly what transpired!
With the subsequent game against Nepal washed out, Singapore now has another chance of repeating its performance when they take on Zimbabwe again on October 3rd. A win would get them to the top of the table and that would leave a huge positive impact on Singapore cricket, heading into the future.
Where is Singapore in the International Cricket Circuit?
Singapore currently plays in the third division of the World Cricket League (WCL). In spite of some commendable performances through the years, they have been in the same spot since 2014. With a hat-rick of 3rd place finishes in 2014, 2017 and 2018, they unfortunately missed out on promotion to the WCL 2nd division on all three occasions.
But, when the ICC announced International T20 status in April 2018 to all of its Associate members, Singapore Cricket rejoiced! This was a huge step in the right direction by the highest Cricket authority in the world, and gave a big opportunity for upcoming Cricketing nations such as Singapore to get more first-hand experience at the highest level.
What’s next for Singapore Cricket?
Singapore’s top place finish in the T20 World Cup Asia region final in July 2019, meant that they now have a shot at playing the 2020 T20 World Cup, if future results go their way. They will be facing a host of Associate nations over the next month or so and could progress to the T20 World Cup if they keep raking in the victories. A tough ask, but definitely not impossible!
But whatever happens in the next few months, Cricket in Singapore will continue to grow. The small size of the country has never been a problem with any facet of life, and will not hamper the growth of the Sport as well.
All great things are created between Method and Madness, and Singapore is right there in the middle. It will continue to churn immense cricketing talent in the days and years ahead, and will no doubt produce memorable moments for its huge following of Cricket-crazy fans.
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