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Indian-origin cricketer plays for Ireland after snub by home selectors

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CHANDIGARH: Discrimination in selection to represent your home country at an international cricket is not uncommon, the latest victim of  favouritism is India’a Simaranjit Singh (Indian-origin cricketer) who was snubbed by Indian selectors at Under-19 level despite good performances.He is now with Irish (Ireland) team.

Singh, whose family still resides in Mohali, has broken into the Irish national team on the back of consistent all-round performances in Ireland’s first-class competitions.

Simaranjit is known as Simi in Ireland and made his international debut against New Zealand in May this year. The 30-year-old is also in the Irish squad for their one-off One-dayer against West Indies to be played on September 13.

“Although, I didn’t play international cricket for India, hopefully, I’ll play my first Test for Ireland soon,” Simi told TOI in a telephonic interview.

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For over seven years, Simi would toil, amass runs and take wickets for Punjab’s junior teams – only to be overlooked by the selectors when time came to pick the state’s U-19 squad.

Simi

He represented Punjab successfully at the U-14 and U-17 level; and in 2004, he scored 725 runs in the state inter-district U-17 championship. “He (Simaranjit) was named the best player at the 46th National School Games held in Vijayawada in 2001,” father Amarjit Singh shares. Despite being a consistent performer, Simi failed to make the cut at the U-19 level.

Indian player

“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.

Indian cricketer

Simi packed his bags for Ireland in 2005 to pursue hotel management, said the TOI report. His friend and former teammate, Gaurav convinced him that an opportunity existed in Ireland to pursue cricket and academics simultaneously. “I would play cricket on the weekend by paying five euros per game. I worked at a grocery store so that I could afford to pay to play cricket,” reminisces Simi.

Indian

In a year’s time, he played for the Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin as a professional. In between, in 2008, he returned to India when the first edition of IPL was around the corner. He gave trials for Kings XI Punjab, but wasn’t able to make it to the main team.

A work visa from Old Balverydale Cricket Club would mean that Simaranjit returned to Dublin in 2009 and played for the club for the next three years before joining YMCA Cricket Club in 2012.

Simi SIngh

He began his cricketing career as an off-spinner after seeing videos of Saqlain Mushtaq, and went on to pick 56 wickets in the Leinster Senior Cup – a first-division tournament in Ireland -for the club in 2013.

He also scored 786 runs in the club’s title win.

India

“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.

Ireland was granted Test status by the ICC on June 22, this year. And, Simaranjit wants to fulfill his long-standing dream of playing Test cricket.

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