As the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) gears up for the 5th International SCC Twenty20 Tournament, Connected to India caught up with the Push Sharma, chairman, SCC Twenty20 2017 on the intricacies of the upcoming event, the marquee players and other attractions for cricket fans in the city.
He answers questions about the organisation, schedule and participating teams for the tournament that people want to know about.
CtoI: What are the names of some of the big players who will be participating in the tournament?
Push Sharma: For team SCC we have Muttiah Muralitharan, the legendary Sri Lankan world record holder and Ed Cowan, the stylish Australian left-handed opening batsman as our first ever marquees. While the other teams are in the midst of finalising their squad, we expect Lakshmipathy Balaji, Subramaniam Badrinath, Ajit Agarkar, Rajat Bhatia, Hemang Badani etc. to play again this year. The Hong Kong T20 national team players Waqas Barkat (captain), Kinchit Shah (vice-captain), Babar Hyat, Ehsan Khan, Nizakat Khan, Karandeep Singh and Matthew Stiller too are confirmed to participate in this year’s T20 forr the Kowloon Cricket Club.
CtoI: Why should fans come to see the matches?
Push Sharma: SCC T20 is the biggest tournament of its kind in South- East Asia. We’ve tried to cater to all the key participants and not just fans. It’s going to be a long weekend of fun-filled activities at the iconic Padang for the fans and we have organised a world-class competitive tournament. It’s a way for the cricket clubs to strengthen relations with each other and to support cricket in Singapore and SE Asia. We hope to deliver a good ROI and value for our sponsors.
CtoI: What are the chances of a team from Singapore winning the trophy?
Push Sharma: As the host club, we are in it to win it. We’ve picked the best possible side for the T20 tournament, many of whom are current Singapore national cricket team players. We’ve also strengthened our side with Murali and Ed Cowan and we will certainly be a side to reckon with.
CtoI: What are the various venues for the tournament?
Push Sharma: We have two venues for the T20 tournament this year. The iconic SCC Padang Cricket Ground and Singapore Indian Association Ground respectively.
CtoI: How many teams are participating in the tournament this year?
Push Sharma: This year, we have eight participating teams, from six nations, which include India, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the hosts Singapore. We will have two2 pools with four4 teams in each pool. Knockout games will be on Friday and Saturday played in both grounds, whereas the semi-finals and finals will be played on Sunday at the SCC Padang cricket ground. The participating teams are as follows:
- Madras Cricket Club, India (Defending Champions, winners SCC T20 2014)
- Melbourne Cricket Club, Australia
- Sydney Cricket Ground XI, Australia
- Kowloon Cricket Club, Hong Kong
- Rowlin National Cricket Academy, South Africa
- Sinhalese Sports Club, Sri Lanka (2009 & 2011 Champions)
- Singapore Emerging Stars XI, Singapore
- Singapore Cricket Club, Singapore (Host Team)
CtoI: What is the nature of the teams who will be participating?
Push Sharma: Although this has primarily been a reciprocal club tournament, we have selectively opened the participation this year in order to raise the profile of cricket and to promote Singapore as a hub for international cricket. Each team will bring their own marquees, many of whom have represented their national cricket teams. One particular team is putting together a consortium of national team players from various countries to play under one team, which is very exciting.
CtoI: What is the format of the tournament? How many matches will be played?
Push Sharma: The eight teams are split equally into two groups. There will be 15 games played over the three days. Games are scheduled at 8:30am, 12:00pm and 3:00pm. Knockout rounds will be on Friday and Saturday with three games per day on each ground. Whereas the Semi-final and Final will be played on Sunday at the SCC Padang ground.
CtoI: What else can the fans do besides watching the games?
Push Sharma: For the fans, we’ll have DJ spinning music, performances by professional cheerleaders, lip-smacking food from MYRAS, gourmet coffee from Tripod, exquisite wine from Petersons and an assortment of crisp beers and beverages. Fans can listen to updates via Radio Masti and watch Facebook live for video updates. Professional commentator Raman Bhanot will be doing live commentary from the Eagles Nest at SCC. We also have attractive prizes for fans as giveaways during the tournament. Kids can enjoy face painting and balloon sculpting amongst other activities. The tournament merchandise will be available for sale at the ground. In the evening, the National Gallery of Singapore has planned an amazing sound and light show over the weekend, which will make the evening extra special during the T20 at the Padang.
We have two special dinners planned. The SCC-MYRAS meet and greet dinner with Murali is scheduled on August 10 at MYRAS, Fort Canning on Thursday, 10th August.
The official T20 gala dinner is on Saturday, August 12 at the Singapore Cricket Club. Both dinners are ticketed and more details will be announced shortly.
CtoI: What will happen if you are challenged by rain?
Push Sharma: Well, though we cannot predict the weather, both grounds have excellent drainage. Sarika Prasad who heads our Technical Committee has made the tournament rules with information on what happens should we be hit by rain. The rules will be shared with all teams before and during the team briefing on August 10 at SCC. On a lighter note, I’ve asked our Groundsman Rashid to stack up on green chillies and lemons as I’m told that they might come in handy to keep the rains away.
CtoI: Looking at previous years, what kind of response do you expect this year?
Push Sharma: We expect this year to be busier than all our previous T20 tournaments. There is no entrance fee to watch the games, thus everyone is invited. We have an active social media engagement via our media partners, with active Facebook (@SCCTwenty20) and Instagram (@SCC20Twenty) updates.
We have also made a conscious effort to connect with the local cricket community of Singapore and have local media partners (eg. @CricketersInSingapore) and service providers (eg. Synergy Physiotherapy and Sports) on-board. In addition, we have introduced a few ‘first time ever’ attractions at the T20 and made arrangements to invite the local Indian sub-continent labour community to watch the games at the Padang, as they are avid cricket fans.
Thus, we have tried our best to make this the most exciting cricket weekend in Singapore, with fans getting a chance to get up-close with all the cricket celebrities who will be playing over the weekend. It is safe to say that all those who enjoy cricket will be at the Padang watching the game and cheering their favourite team and players over the long weekend.