HARNAM SINGH: THEN AND NOW



How much has cricket progressed in Asia?
When I played in the 1979 ICC Trophy, only India and Pakistan were playing Test cricket. There were only five other countries in Asia playing cricket. They were Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. The ACC Chief Executive now Syed Ashraful Huq, and the ACC Development Manager Bandula Warnapura both played in that tournament. There were only seven nations then in Asia but now there are 22 ACC members. You can see how the game has grown over the years.

Harnam Singh: Then

Do you think the development of cricket is a good thing or do you feel these countries will never have a chance to play at a World Cup?
I really don’t think all of these teams will play in a World Cup. The highest the teams, apart from Afghanistan and the UAE, can reach is the ICC World Cricket League Division 3. Our system is so different because we’re all amateur cricketers and there are no professionals. In countries like Malaysia and Singapore cricket will never give you a living unlike how it is in the Test-playing countries.

What about the cricketers in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Netherlands? They aren’t professionals and yet they’ve made it to the World Cup.
They are in the same position as us but some of them do play professional cricket. Even when Guernsey came to Singapore to play in the World Cricket League, there were a couple of players who had played or are playing in County cricket. I can remember two or three of them. Canada is made up mostly of foreigners who usually come from cricket-playing nations. In Singapore it’s a bit difficult.

Harnam Singh at the 2009 Inter-school cricket championships in Singapore

Do you think the current process of developing cricket is effective? What factors have helped advance Singapore the most?
Yes, development of cricket is effective. We have used foreign coaches and also sent our boys for overseas tours and also the ones in different age-groups. Recently one of them went to India and now and then we send boys to Australia and attach them to clubs. We’re constantly sending boys out at our own expense through ACC funding. Our Under-13s have also gone for a tour to Sri Lanka.

What were your best bowling figures when you were playing? And batting?
There was nothing much in the national team. I was basically a very length and line bowler and didn’t give away very many runs; very economical with a couple of wickets. When I was playing for my school, there was a Division Two match where I took seven wickets for 14 runs and all seven were caught behind. In Division One as a young man, I got eight for 23 and could’ve had nine but I dropped a caught and bowled chance. In a Division One league match I once hit 28 runs in an over, four sixes and a four and was caught on the boundary on the sixth ball. So that’s me, a strong guy.

Do any of your family play cricket?
Yes, my son also plays cricket. He represented Singapore under-23 and also played for Kallang sports after which he went to Australia for three years to study.

How long has your family been in Singapore?
My parents came over in the 1930s. My dad came in 1934 and then went back to India in 1938 and got married. What my mum said was that from the time they left their village in Punjab to come to Singapore, it took them three months. They first went to Delhi and then to Calcutta and then had to wait for a boat for a month or so. When I look back and think of how my life turned out I’m very proud and happy and also thankful for all the opportunities I received to make my way in the world on my own terms as a Singaporean.

Related:
Singapore Cricket Profile

Filed Jan 28th, 2010