Worcestershire sign 28-year-old SACA graduate Yadvinder Singh

NICK FRIEND: It is a remarkable story for a seamer who, until the age of 17, had never played hardball cricket before; his prolific form in the Birmingham and District Premier League led to county interest, which has finally culminated in a contract


Yadvinder Singh has become the eighth playing graduate of the South Asian Cricket Academy, joining Worcestershire, initially as an overseas player.

It is the latest chapter in a remarkable story for a 28-year-old seamer who, until the age of 17, hadn't played hardball cricket before. As a 17-year-old, he was playing fourth-team club cricket for Moseley, having moved to England two years earlier.

A year later, he had progressed into their first team and, other than a year at Smethwick in 2019, he has been prolific for them ever since; eligibility criteria in club cricket are different to those in the professional game, so Yadvinder, who possesses indefinite leave to remain, is a local player in league cricket. He took 39 wickets in the Premier League in 2023 as Moseley won the Birmingham and District title.

"I've wanted to be a cricketer since I was born, since I can remember," he told The Cricketer, as part of a longer interview about his story. "From when I was a kid, I just wanted to play professional cricket. I never had a second option or a second thought to do anything else in life.

"To be honest, I still can't believe it. The way I've always been thinking about it, having it manifest in my head that this would happen for me one day. I dreamt of this. I think when I wear the kit, I will feel like a professional cricketer.

"Ashley Giles asked where I see myself," he said. "The goal is international cricket. It is not just to get a contract once. I want to be one of the best."

Born in India before moving to the UK in 2011, it is anticipated that he will hold a British passport by the start of the 2025 season, at which point he would be eligible to play as a local.

For the 2024 summer, though - when he will be classed as an overseas player - he is still likely to feature when the opportunity arises around the signings of other overseas players; he will also be eligible for second-team cricket.

Worcestershire, led by Ashley Giles, chose to sign Yadvinder even when the potential issue around his passport emerged. The earliest he can apply for his British passport is April 4, and the process usually takes up to six months. Had he not been stuck in India through Covid, he would already have it.


Yadvinder is the eighth player to come through SACA's programme to earn a professional contract

He trialled with Worcestershire in 2019, while also representing the second teams of Surrey, Somerset and Northamptonshire. He also spent much of this winter training with Warwickshire, while Sussex also offered to take him on trial.

So, Yadvinder has been on plenty of radars. But it remains a deal that breaches tradition: when was the last time that a county offered a first professional contract to a 28-year-old, a full decade older than academy age?

For that alone, it is further proof of the point that Tom Brown, SACA's co-founder, made at the initiative's foundation, that there were players being lost to the domestic game. Most aspiring pros reach their late-twenties and accept that it's not meant to be.

Yadvinder's personal circumstances, which included looking after his late mother during a battle with cancer, meant that he was never in the system as a junior.

But counties are now seeing the value of fully-formed, adult seamers, with overs under their belt from the second-team circuit. Arafat Bhuiyan joined Kent last year from SACA at the age of 26; he was thrown straight in for his first-class debut and took four wickets against Surrey.

"There were times when I would play during the week and for my club at the weekend, Sunday I was working; there was no rest," said Yadvinder, who at one stage was trialling with counties by day and by night working security shifts on a construction site. To fund his dream, he did paper-rounds, parcel deliveries and worked a warehouse job.

"I didn't know how I was going to get here, but I knew that I was going to get here," he said. Against all odds, he was right.

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