Ireland all-rounder Simi Singh, in an exclusive chat with SportsCafe, stated that the Irish side are determined to use the World T20 as a platform to prove their credentials to the whole world. He further attested that Ireland, in the WT20, will be keen to take the game to the opposition.
From playing their first-ever ODI at Stormont, Belfast, in 2006 to becoming a Test-playing nation in 2017, the rise of Ireland in the sport of cricket has been a story for the ages. Be it downing Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup or pulling off the most remarkable upset against England in 2011 or almost conquering Lord’s in their third-ever Test match, the Irishmen have given cricket fanatics many a moment to cherish over the course of the last decade and a half and have virtually transformed themselves into the underdog that everyone loves to see triumph. However, now 14 and a half years old in international cricket, the time has come for the underdogs to move on to the next level and firmly establish themselves as a genuine force to be reckoned with - something that their counterparts Afghanistan have done with elan.
And be it the series draw against West Indies or the narrow defeat versus Afghanistan, recent results have proved that Ireland, under the leadership of newly-appointed captain Andrew Balbirnie, are indeed headed in the right direction - both in terms of the way they play and in terms of results. With the World T20 beckoning in four months’ time, the tournament would give an enormous opportunity for the members of the Irish cricket team to send a statement to the world and prove their credibility and Simi Singh, a player who has been integral in Ireland’s success in the shorter formats over the last couple of years, sees it the same way.
In an exclusive interaction with SportsCafe, the all-rounder, who has established himself as a mainstay in Ireland’s white-ball side, revealed that Ireland have one solitary goal in the World T20, which is to show the world how good a side they are. Simi also insisted on the importance for the side to express themselves and play with freedom once they get into the tournament but admitted that the side’s primary aim is to finish in the Top 2 of their qualifying group and book a berth in the ‘Super 12’ stage. Ireland are drawn in Group A of the first round, alongside Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Oman.
“The first target for us (Ireland) will be to finish in the Top 2 of the qualifiers and get into the Super 10. I think the way we played in the last couple of series has given us a tremendous belief that we actually can do it. That sort of a feeling only comes through winning and so beating West Indies in West Indies in a T20 game was a big confidence booster for the whole side. That will definitely be our first target, to qualify,” Simi Singh told SportsCafe in an exclusive chat.
“Then going into the tournament, our aim will just be to try and express ourselves. We’ve got this method that we’ve picked up from the last few series - to play with Freedom. Our aim is to go out there and try and take the game on, rather than being intimidated by the opposition. So that’s what we will try and do in both bowling and batting. That will be our target - to play good cricket and show the world that we’re not here by accident and we’re actually a good team. That will be our main motive in the tournament.”
Born in Bathlana, Punjab, Simi spent the first 18 years of his life in India, playing age-group cricket for his state side, Punjab. Him moving to Ireland and eventually becoming a citizen of the country meant that he never got the chance to participate in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as a local player, but nevertheless, he tried his luck enrolling his name into the auction as an overseas player - as recent as 2018 - only to miss out on the final cut.
The all-rounder revealed that in the initial stages of his career, he had doubts over his ability, whether he’d be able to compete at a world-class tournament like the IPL, but stated that he is now confident of excelling should he get an opportunity, with him now having 42 international games under his belt and having castled many a world-class batsman. Simi noted that for him to now get into the IPL, he needed to be extremely consistent and make a name for himself, making heads turn with his performances.
“My name was in the auction a couple of times, as recent as 2018, but I did not make the final shortlist cut. I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the IPL, at that time. But after I started playing international cricket and did well against big teams - the recent tours of West Indies and Afghanistan, for instance - I started getting the belief (that I was good enough). I thought to myself, ‘If I could take the wicket of someone like a Pollard or a Hetmyer in international cricket, there’s no reason why I cannot do it in the IPL. Because it’s the same cricketers who play there.’
“But I think I have to be more consistent. If I have a very good year, then people will get to know my name more then I will have more of a chance to get picked in the IPL. You could send out your name every year, but no one is going to look at that without knowing who you are.”
When asked which IPL franchise he would love to represent should he be given an option, the Punjab-born all-rounder had no hesitation in taking the name of Mumbai Indians.
“I would be happy to play for any IPL franchise, but if I had a choice, I would love to play for Mumbai Indians. They are so passionate about their franchise, it’s in Mumbai and it’s the biggest cricket franchise in the world, so if given an option, I would definitely choose Mumbai.”
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi