Raj Singh is in full swing for Cambridge Granta in a big to be one of the league's top bowlers
It has been a good summer in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League
It has been a mid-summer’s dream for Raj Singh as the wickets have fallen by the bucketload for Cambridge Granta, and the added tonic is that it is a far cry from the start of the season.
The 26-year-old has been the star bowler in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League in the past month, taking hauls of 8 for 34 against Horsford, 7 for 21 against Norwich and 4 for 34 against Bury St Edmunds, in consecutive matches.
This is despite fearing that his season may not have got going at all after suffering an injury this time last year in a match against Burwell.
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect this was going to happen,” said Singh. “At the start of the season, I wasn’t even sure I was going to bowl for the ones because I dislocated my shoulder last August.
“I wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to bowl again. I started in the twos at the start of the season but after seven or eight games, when I was fit, I did come back to the ones.
“It’s going really well, surprisingly well. I didn’t expect it to be going this well, but I will take all the wickets I can – I’m a greedy person like that!”
There is no magic formula to Singh’s success though.
In fact, one of the key aspects has been easing up.
He cites putting too much effort in at the gym as a contributing factor to his injury, and lightening the weight load has had its benefits.
“I was so determined to take wickets that I was working too hard in the gym and my body was constantly tired,” he said.
“Bowling with a tired body, you’re not going to take many wickets. I feel like I’m quicker this year than I’ve ever bowled before and that helps as well.
“Losing a bit of muscle in the body helped me out massively; as a fast bowler you cannot be too muscly, especially upper body.”
Singh has not been to the gym for 12 months, so in his recuperation from his injury it was a case of running, and the priority was to stay bowling fit.
He has also been putting the training practice in, which has aided his form, and it is the ability to hit the same spot on the wicket time and again that has proved crucial.
Captain Lewys Hill highlighted exactly that after Singh’s 8 for 34 against Horsford.
“My consistency is one of the things I focus and concentrate on quite a lot,” said Singh. “Obviously, there are bowlers who are quicker than me because I’m not express.
“I wouldn’t say I’m out and out quick, but one thing I can have in my control is my consistency and try to bowl the same ball all of good length.
“Being an inswing bowler, I do try to attack the stumps as much as possible as well. The good thing is that I’ve been seaming it away quite a lot this year as well which has been handy.
“It’s been 30C for the last two months so it hasn’t been easy for seamers. It’s pleasing for myself because taking wickets in this hot weather, especially in July and August time when it’s more likely that spinners take wickets, was quite good.”
The haul against Horsford was the second time in the Premier League that Singh has taken eight wickets in a match, with the other being against Copdock & Old Ipswichian in 2014.
Having got so close to a complete set of 10 wickets, is there ever any hope that path is laid open for the achievement with none of his team-mates taking a scalp? Not according to Singh.
“I have never really thought about that before,” said Singh. “It has been the case when we played Norwich that they were eight down and I had seven of them, and I was in my last over and thinking I would take the rest of them to end up with nine for.
“The way I think is that I’m going to take all 10, but obviously most of the time it’s not possible; I do like to be greedy and take as many as I can as well.
“Of course, I would never hope that no-one else takes any wickets because I’m a team man and I want Granta to come first before my personal milestones.”
Singh first joined Granta in 2008, from Cherry Hinton, so he is in his 10th season at the club, with a hiatus in 2011 at Haverhill.
He came up through the youth ranks in the same side as captain Hill and former skipper Johnny Atkinson, going from the thirds to the seconds and now establishing himself in the firsts.
And now Singh has his sights on nestling in a place among the leading wicket-takers in the Premier League this season, and a high finish for the team as well.
“Consistency is important, focusing on us every Saturday, and my aim is to take as many wickets as I can and bowling stats wise to finish as high as possible among Premier League bowlers,” he said.
“I’m aiming for top five, which would be great; and we want to finish in the top six as a team.”