Jigme Singay dazzles in the ongoing ‘Bhutan T20 Smash 2021’

The cricketer has already listed his name as one of the best performers so far in the ‘Bhutan T20 Smash’ tournament and was also awarded the ‘Man of the match’ medal against the Youth XI

As an 11-year-old kid, Jigme Singay fondly remembers the time when he had to walk to the Rinchen Kuenphen Primary School, which he describes as also the time when he was introduced to cricket.

As soon as he was there in the school, he remembers getting together with his friends and then playing tennis ball cricket in the corridor of their school building. He was a beginner then.

“It was probably because I had cousins who already used to play cricket back then from which one of them was one of the founding members of Bhutan Cricket,” he says, while answering to how he got interested in cricket.

“I used to steal his sports magazines which mainly consisted of cricket stuffs in it and would cut the photos of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar and would have them on the walls of my room,” he adds.

However, more than hitting the ball with the bat in those earlier days, Jigme Singay says they would mostly hit the main doors and windows of their neighbors.

‘We would then bolt away just to avoid their scolding,” he says, adding that it was their routine then.

But today, Jigme Singay, a right-handed batsman and a national cricket team player, has become a hitter of the balls and is even dubbed as the Sachin Tendulkar of Bhutan among those in the cricket fraternity.

He says he was formally introduced into the junior cricket coaching when he saw a cricket coaching underway as a kid and then being coached by Bhutan’s Cricket Chief Executive Officer, Damber S Gurung.

“I had made up my mind then and joined the cricket coaching,” says Jigme Singay, adding that he had then started loving cricket and would never miss out a coaching session even if it was right after school.

“I would even miss out on my tuitions for cricket. Once I joined Lungtenzampa School, it was easier for me to attend training since it was right between my house and the school,” he says.

Despite his love and passion for cricket. Jigme Singay also prioritized and gave much emphasis to this study.

“I always did my homework on time and never had the teachers complain about me in studies. So my parents always supported me fully when it came to cricket,” he says, adding that the only struggle he could remember is the time when he had no bats and balls at home to play with and when there were no shops which sold cricket bats.

“I remember my father making a small thin wooden bat for me to play with which was the first-ever bat I owned.”

Jigme Singay is currently playing for the SKD ALL Stars in the ‘Bhutan T20 Smash 2021’, which kicked off on May 1 and is organized by the Bhutan Cricket. Jigme Singay is the first player to score a century in the tournament with 156 runs in 57 balls. 

He made these runs against Youth 11 at the Dechencholing ground in Thimphu on May 8. He has thus become the first Bhutanese to ever score a century in the shortest format of this cricket game.

“It’s always a great feeling when I can score a century for my club,” he says, adding that getting to do it for his club after such a long break from cricket due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought him huge joy personally.

“When a batsman enters the field, he always wants to score runs; so yes, I always aim to score big runs for any club I play for,” he says.

According to him, the hardest part in scoring a century is to get over the first few overs without getting out.

“After having adapted to the conditions of the ground and as I spend more and more time on the pitch, it gets easier. I believe patience really helps,” he says.

Meanwhile, after two wins in a row, team SKD ALL Stars is planning to reach the finals of the Bhutan T20 Smash 2021’ scheduled next month and win it. And Jigme Singay plans to help his team achieve that goal.

The cricketer outlined that one real struggle in Bhutan is the difficulty in getting a ground to play cricket matches. However, Jigme Singay is thankful that cricket has given him so much and made him a better person.

“I am also so much thankful to the Bhutan Cricket for having allowed me to represent our nation in many tournaments,” he says, adding that an abundance of opportunity lies in today’s world for today’s youth. 

“So it’s up to us – how, when, what, who, and where to spend our time. But make sure to always look at the larger picture,” he admonishes, adding that he tries to enjoy himself and have fun playing cricket during the weekends.

Meanwhile, Bhutan Cricket’s CEO Damber S Gurung is all praise for Jigme Singay, who played the first Under-15 cricket tournament for Bhutan in 2005.

“Since he was playing for the country and I as his coach gave him the responsibility as a captain. We didn’t know how far we would go in 2005 when we went for the Asian Cricket Council Under-15 tournament. It was a very young side and without much facilities for training, but under his guidance we won the matches and got into the finals. Then in 2006, we were one of the finalists and he was the captain,” says Damber S Gurung. “Again in the Under-19, we were one of the finalists but we lost in the finals. Then in 2019, when we went with the senior national cricket team, we were the finalist. So actually when Jigme Singay started playing for Bhutan, things started changing. It was because of his guidance that we are successful to achieve a lot especially in terms of cricket in the international arena,” he adds.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu