Youth-Powered Thunderbolts Cricket Club Is Hitting Sixers For Singapore

Youth-Powered Thunderbolts Cricket Club Is Hitting Sixers For Singapore

In these 50 years, Singapore has been playing something of a slow over; the nation got full Twenty20 International status only in 2019, more than a decade after the first ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, held in 2007 in South Africa.

connectedtoindia.comUpdated: Friday, March 08, 2024, 07:53 PM IST
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Dev Pal (batting) and Aaron Varghese (wicket-keeping) at TB Day. Photo Courtesy: TCC |

Singapore is known across the world for many things – tourism, finance, technology – but cricket is unlikely to be at the top of the list. That may change soon – growth of the sport has accelerated in the island nation, which was granted an associate membership by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s global governing body, in 1974. In these 50 years, Singapore has been playing something of a slow over; the nation got full Twenty20 International status only in 2019, more than a decade after the first ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, held in 2007 in South Africa. Leveraging the current favourable conditions, a young group is attempting to bring about a silent revolution on the Singapore cricket scene.

Backed by Chetan Suryawanshi, former Singapore national cricket team captain and a former player of the Indian Premier League-based Kolkata Knight Riders, the Thunderbolts Cricket Club (TCC) is looking to change the pace of the game in Singapore. What sets the club apart are its founders, some of whom are still teenagers. Speaking exclusively to Connected to India, TCC member Aryan Agrawal reveals the club’s big plans for Singapore cricket.

Thunderbolts was founded in 2021, and the start was not smooth. The time was right after the first wave of the COVID pandemic, and the fledgling club had to struggle as several of its players contracted the infection in the second wave. Nonetheless, the TCC overcame these adversities and finished as the runner-up in the Cage T20 Division D league in the very first year of the team’s formation.

What had seemed at first to be a setback proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed the TCC to look for more members and add them to the team. “…that is when we started to grow our team, [as] we got more players, and soon enough everyone in the cricket community who was in our age group wanted to play with us,” says Aryan.

Neil Karnik (left) and Thiyanesh after winning the game for their team on TB Day. Photo courtesy: TCC

Neil Karnik (left) and Thiyanesh after winning the game for their team on TB Day. Photo courtesy: TCC |

The revolving door of new members also allowed the TCC to work around Singapore’s conscription system, whereby those eligible are required to perform national services, also known as the National Service Obligation. As per the website of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, unless exempted, are required to serve National Service (NS).” The tenure of the NS is two years.

Explaining how this impacts the cricket club, Aryan says, “A lot of the youngsters are given [an] opportunity to step up. We usually get one guy who really shows his skills and gets the well-deserved spot that was earlier taken by the player [now] not not available [due to NS].”

Aside from being very youthful, the TCC is also ambitious. The club has ventured into e-commerce since January 2024. This is unusual for such a new club, but the TCC grabbed the opportunity as soon as it saw one. Currently, the club sells cricket equipment through its e-commerce website.

SKTB branded equipment sold by TCC. Photo courtesy: TCC

SKTB branded equipment sold by TCC. Photo courtesy: TCC |

Aryan says that the idea was conceived after studying the existing market in Singapore. “We noticed that cricket equipment was very expensive in Singapore, and [we thought] why not start our own brand and provide quality products at a reasonable price, and really understand what our consumers are looking for, and make sure they are enjoying the use and feel of the cricket equipment and clothing,” he says. To make it more cost-effective, the club does not have a physical store in the country yet, allowing it to save money on manpower and rent.

The club focuses mainly on producing goods for junior cricketers, who arguably suffer from the shortage of high quality equipment.

Partnership with CricKingdom

The year 2023 was particularly big for the TCC, as it inked an agreement with CricKingdom, a cricket academy established by the current Team India skipper Rohit Sharma. The partnership has enabled the TCC members to access top-quality coaching, overseas exposure, and mentorship. The agreement was engineered by Suryawanshi, who hails the TCC’s “remarkable dedication and expertise in addressing prevalent issues faced by players in Singapore’s sports landscape”.

“Aryan and his team, whom I have been coaching since their early days, identified and successfully tackled challenges related to match experiences. Their subsequent venture into providing personalised, high-quality equipment at an affordable price showcased a commitment to enhancing the overall sporting experience,” says the former Singapore cricket captain.

Chetan Suryawanshi (1st from right) with TCC founders A Khush Ghelani, Aryan Agrawal, Aditya Vishwanath, and Yashaswi Agrawal (from left to right). Photo courtesy: TCC

Chetan Suryawanshi (1st from right) with TCC founders A Khush Ghelani, Aryan Agrawal, Aditya Vishwanath, and Yashaswi Agrawal (from left to right). Photo courtesy: TCC |

“Recognising their passion and innovative solutions, we were inspired to form a partnership, aligning our shared vision for improving the accessibility and quality of sports equipment for athletes,” Suryawanshi adds.

The collaboration also led to the TCC sponsoring the CricKingdom Champions Trophy in Pune, India, and a Singapore Cricket Club event in 2023.

Eyeing other Indian cities

With a sponsorship gig at the CricKingdom Champions Trophy last time, the TCC has officially entered the Indian market, setting up a physical store in Pune. 

Now the Singapore club has plans to move to traditional cricketing venues like Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata. “At the moment, we ship all around India but there are plans to slowly take our equipment and clothing to different cities in Maharashtra first, then move into other states [of India] and, in the future, hopefully into all the bigger cities,” Aryan says.

A quadrangular series in the pipeline

The three-year-old club has already made some big moves. Last year, it hosted the Singapore Cricket Club at the Indian Association, locking horns for the 5-match Summer cup. This year, the TCC plans to scale it up.

Ricky Sen walking back to his runup after bowling. Photo courtesy: TCC

Ricky Sen walking back to his runup after bowling. Photo courtesy: TCC |

“This year, we plan to take it to the next level, where we plan to invite two visiting sides to participate in a 4-team quadrangular series [along with the Singapore Cricket Club] and make this tournament even better,” says Aryan.

The dates for the quadrangular series in Singapore are yet to be confirmed, but the tentative plan is to host it in the last three weeks of June.

With cricket and e-commerce both going strong, the TCC appears poised to groom the young cricketers of Singapore today to become globally acknowledged talent tomorrow.

(The article is published under a mutual content partnership arrangement between The Free Press Journal and Connected To India)

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