A number of Indian and Pakistani origin players have built their cricket careers abroad, even going on to play for England and New Zealand, with Usman Khawaja even breaking into the Australia side.
However, Simi Singh is as delighted as any of them were after making it to the Ireland side. The 30-year-old all-rounder is part of the squad that features in the Tri-series against New Zealand and Bangladesh.
The IPL 2017, like in previous seasons, has thrown up many domestic cricketers. However, for each mini-success story, there are many tales of dejection. Simi Singh would have been another such footnote in Indian cricket.
For all IPL 2017 news | CLICK HERE
Frustrated by his performances for Punjab’s age-group sides not getting him selection in the senior side, and after falling into bad company, Simi packed his bags for Ireland.
His ordeal began and his selection to the Ireland squad is the result of a 13-year wait. With tough residency rules in place, Simi’s ECB level 2 coaching degree and certificate as a personal trainer helped him stay afloat till he got Irish citizenship recently.
From working in stores to cleaning toilets, Simi took up teaching cricket to schoolchildren, who initially taunted him for his ‘tuti-phuti’ English.
Student visa issue
Making trips to Ireland on student visa was another problem. “I was worried when I returned to India in 2008 after my student visa expired. I had nothing else to do. While I could keep paying extra money to extend my student visa that wouldn’t have got me permanent residency and my hard work playing for Malahide CC made my life,” Simi told HT from Dublin on Thursday.
To get permanent residency, an immigrant has to stay continuously for a minimum of 183 days in that country. Three years, he kept falling short by three days. “(But) I performed really well for Malahide in the second division and got promotion to play Division 1.
“Two years later, I got a call from YMCA, a top-tier club. That was the club which helped me get a two-year work permit. In 2013, I performed well for them. I scored close to 800 runs and picked 55 wickets. That two-year period got a lot of pressure off my back and now I see my game flourishing,” said Simi.
His performance in the Inter-Provincial competition was a big step towards making it to the Ireland side. “I was to play for Leinster and it is now consisdred a List A game. I had an all-round performance but never thought I would break into the Ireland squad. I was told since I have spent five years in Ireland on work permit, I could apply for citizenship. I applied in October and got it last month.”