Singapore Cricket Club: Cricket in the nation of Merlion!

Priyansh Maru Roar Rookie

By Priyansh Maru, Priyansh Maru is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    A hot sunny afternoon! My wife and I were exploring Singapore in a private city tour – the extravagant Marina Bay Sands, the famed Singapore Flyer, the bustling Little India and the iconic Merlion statue.

    Lo and behold, what did I chance upon – a stunning well-maintained cricket field called The Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) Ground (also known as the Padang Cricket Ground).

    It is an unusual sensation when you come across something you are tremendously passionate about, in a place where you least expect it. A feeling of joy and bewilderment, curiosity and excitement! Imagine an Indian, for whom cricket is nothing less than a religion, lands up in a cricket field in an Asian nation, which is still struggling to put itself on the cricket map.

    I was jubilant, utterly ecstatic. My wife was completely amused – ‘You are acting as if a baby has got a new toy.’

    The Padang (field in Malay) is an attractive, green ground located in the heart of the city’s business centre. Flanked by the Parliament House Building and the Old Supreme Court Building, the ground evokes a sense of intertwining of Singapore’s culture, history and politics.

    The business skyline of the city gives a modern expression to this quiet area. With no fencing between the field and the road, let alone the stands for the spectators, it felt that the SCC Ground welcomed us with open arms.

    There was a manual cricket scoreboard, reminding me of the huge manual scoreboards that we see on our screens during Test matches. There was a gardener trimming and watering the grass to maintain the lush outfield. There was a football match going on in one part of the ground, and some players training and warming up for rugby on another side of the ground.

    The tennis court inside the SCC complex saw players in an intense battle for points. But what I did not see was a single soul playing cricket on the ground. I was heartbroken, dejected.

    I had thought I will meet up a few guys and talk about cricket – in Singapore and in general. The SCC did not allow visitors and I missed the chance to visit the club from the inside.

    Then I decided to just research about this picturesque ground and get to know a little more about it. And was I surprised? Oh yeah!

    The SCC was established in about 1852 – 25 years before the first Test match was played between Australia and England. This came as a complete shock to me; but I soon remembered Singapore was a British colony and cricket here was a gift from the English.

    The SCC is one of the oldest and most well-known cricket clubs in the world. It has evolved from the times of being a club for only the elites to now catering to the entire Singaporean sporting community.

    The club buildings have grown horizontally and vertically over the years, and the membership has also grown manifold. Besides cricket, the club offers its members a host of other sporting facilities like football, rugby, tennis, squash, hockey and billiards.

    It hosts the annual SCC International Rugby Sevens tournament and an annual Soccer Sevens tournament as well. This explained the presence of other sportsmen on the ‘cricket’ field.

    What came as a bigger surprise to me though, was that many famous past players have already graced this beautiful playing field. Sir Gary Sobers, Alvin Kallicharran, Joel Garner, Dennis Lillie and Gordon Greenidge, to name a few have played at SCC.

    I started imagining Sachin Tendulkar sweeping a leg spinner, and the ball going directly into the Parliament building. Or Chris Gayle plundering bowlers for lofty sixes all over this small park!

    And what did I find then? The SCC has been a host to a few one day internationals as well. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and wait for the third name – India, have all played here in 1996 Singer Cup.

    Sachin got a hundred on this ground (my imagination was well-placed) but we still lost to our arch rivals Pakistan. Names like Azhar, Dravid, Inzamam, Aamir Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Kumble, Srinath, Jadeja et al have all played on this pitch, albeit for a couple of matches.

    And no idea what the reason was – the smaller dimensions of the ground or his remarkable power-hitting and strokeplay, Sanath Jaysuriya scored a whirlwind century off just 48 balls, on this ground, a world record at that time!

    The roads surrounding the ground were occupied by temporary stands for the spectators, and the Padang Cricket Ground got converted into a proper stadium.

    This petite ground indeed has an awesome history and pedigree. I came back with some fantastic memories of the Padang Cricket Ground, Singapore’s cricketing jewel.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the current stars like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Kane Williamson timing the ball sweetly to the ropes? Or Ravi Ashwin and Suni Narine bamboozling batsmen with their spin tricks? The cricketing world – are you listening?

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • May 4th 2017 @ 10:57pm
      Rats said | May 4th 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the article..

      I lived in S’pore for 2 years and always wondered why international teams don’t come and play there. The tickets will be houseful for sure.. Considerable Indian. Pak, SL, Eng and even Aussie expats living there.

      This is the problem with ICC. They simply don’t care…

      I read an article in cricnfo the other day. Zimbabwean saying they got the Test status bit too late. I fear the same for Ireland now. By the time the lazy ICC gives them the Test status, the best Irish players would have retired.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 8th 2017 @ 4:01pm
        Priyansh Maru said | May 8th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

        Thanks! It would be wonderful if bilateral tournaments involving some big teams are organized there.

    • May 5th 2017 @ 8:18am
      Fivehole said | May 5th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Nice article Priyansh – enjoyed it

    • May 5th 2017 @ 7:10pm
      GWSINGAPORE said | May 5th 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

      Not much cricket played there these days. The occasional game. You did not miss much by not seeing the interior of the club. It has the decor of a 1970s Sydney suburban RSL club. A bit of a sad place actually.

    • Roar Guru

      May 6th 2017 @ 9:41am
      Anindya Dutta said | May 6th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Nice piece Priyansh. Yes it’s a beautiful ground but having lived here in Singapore for almost 5-years now and being an obvious cricket tragic (those who follow my writing know that ?), I can confirm I haven’t seen much cricket at that ground, beautiful as it is. There is a fair bit of club and corporate cricket played on the few other grounds around the city though on weekends.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 8th 2017 @ 4:02pm
        Priyansh Maru said | May 8th 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

        Thanks a lot!

      • May 10th 2017 @ 1:13am
        Johnno said | May 10th 2017 @ 1:13am | ! Report

        I knew Anindya you’d like this article your style of article, right up your alley. Thoughtful and of the beaten-track and a bit obscure, I like these type of articles to, as they cover non-masses mainstream stuff and focus on angles that have often an interesting history or past.
        A nice article Priyansh, I like these type of articles. If you ever go to Hong Kong do one on the Hong kong cricket club.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2017 @ 12:50pm
          Anindya Dutta said | May 10th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          You got me sussed Johnno ? Yes it’s nice to see these alongside the eternal debates about Usman khwaja and Kohli and Smith that anyway will go on ?I hope to have at least one and possibly two books out later this year and hopefully you will like them too!

          • May 10th 2017 @ 1:46pm
            Johnno said | May 10th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            I will read them mate for sure look forward to them.

          • May 10th 2017 @ 1:51pm
            JohnB said | May 10th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

            Indonesia played against Singapore on the Padang back in the 90s (club teammates in Jakarta had played in the game). A great experience by all reports. I don’t know if anything similar occurs now. There’s a very verdant cricket field which I think is part of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club which one of the skytrain routes goes past – I never lived there but travelled through Bangkok often and it was always quite nostalgic seeing a field like that there.

            Cricket fields in unusual places is a nice little minor branch of the cricket story genre. Some suitably minor additions – the Country Woods ground in Jakarta – the pitch was in between 2 soccer pitches. Nothing unusual there. Minor issue was that one of the soccer pitches was a couple of feet lower than the other, meaning an embankment ran the length of the cricket field, with the pitch parallel to it and on the higher level. Took some getting used to. I can’t complain too much as it got me a wicket once when the batsman turned one off his hip and instead of it going to ground a few metres away it carried to the fielder in front of square. One of the other Jakarta grounds had a large volcano (fortunately dormant) behind the bowler’s arm. Very picturesque. A ground in Bali (probably the ground in Bali) I played on once was much like a bush ground in Australia – apart from the very loud and enthusiastic applause coming from the cock-fighting pit next door. The otherwise very good RMIT ground in Saigon was another where the pitch was between 2 football pitches. There must be something about doing things that way that causes problems. No problem with the levels, and the artificial grass on concrete pitch was fine – however the metric system was an issue. The holes left to put the stumps into were set 22 metres, not yards, apart, making quite a difference to an aging medium pacer.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 13th 2017 @ 4:48pm
              Priyansh Maru said | May 13th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

              I agree – cricket fields in unusual places with a fascinating history bring out the romance that we fans feel for the game!

            • Columnist

              May 13th 2017 @ 5:22pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | May 13th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

              The Royal Bangkok Sports Club ground is absolutely pristine and, quite unusually, is located right in the middle of the city’s main horse racing track.

              But unfortunately its use is strictly controlled by the club and the main league here, the Bangkok Cricket League, gets stuck playing at a comparatively ordinary ground outside Bangkok.

              Occasionally we get to play at RBSC when they host T20 or T10 tournaments – one time we played a T20 match there while there was a big race meet on which was incredible. There was a massive crowd in the grandstand behind us and the sound of horses thundering past, it was quite surreal.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 13th 2017 @ 4:46pm
          Priyansh Maru said | May 13th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          Thanks Johnno! I would love to do an article on Hong Kong CC whenever I go there.

    • May 13th 2017 @ 6:26pm
      Rohini said | May 13th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

      Nice article. Enjoyed reading it.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 16th 2017 @ 10:39pm
      Greg said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

      It’s always really cool finding a new country in the cricket world. They should play in unknown cricket countries more often. Not only does it bring in a new global audience, but it adds some context for fans at home watching the repetitive cricketing calendar. I remember Aus-Ind-WI playing a tri-series in Malaysia 11 years ago.

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