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Aussie U19 star attributes success to Sikh martial art

3 minute read

Harjas Singh, Australia's top run-scorer in the U19 World Cup final, says spinning swords in the Sikh martial art of Gatka helped make him the batter he is.

Australia's U19 World Cup winner Harjas Singh reckons the Sikh martial art of Gatka has helped set him apart from other batters.

One of the most confident young players of spin in the country, Singh top-scored for Australia in this month's final with 55 against an Indian attack dominated by tweakers.

"The stage was set up for me," said Singh, who arrived back in Australia last week.

"India spin bowling is their strength, and playing spin bowling is my strength.

"A big game against India, where my parents are born. So I just took the chance."

Singh's innings in South Africa included three sixes and three fours against the spin.

Some 52 of his 55 runs came against the tweakers as Australia won their first title since 2010.

Another product of high-profile batting coach Neil D'Costa, Singh's father was a state boxing champion in Punjab and his mother a state-level long jumper.

But when it comes to batting, Singh believes his wrists make the difference.

While others rising through the youth ranks flourish with the cut and pull shot, the Sydney-born Singh's strength is slapping spinners by using strong wrists.

For that he credits Gatka, a martial art that includes the use of a one-metre stick and shield.

"You have to have very strong wrists for that," Singh said.

"It's a lot of sword fighting, and just sword spinning. There's a lot of footwork-based stuff as well.

"With the heavy spears and swords that you spin, it gets really tiring on your wrist. And the more you do it, the stronger you get."

A vegetarian through his faith, Singh does not drink and speaks Punjabi at home. He lists Usman Khawaja as one of the players he looks up to for leading the way on diversity in Australian cricket.

The 19-year-old does not believe he has experienced any clear racism in state-level pathways, but like Khawaja he wants to be a leader in that space to make it easier for others to progress.

"If I was to play a Shield game, they'd be like he's one of the first Sikh players to play for NSW or something like that," Singh said.

"But it'd be nice to hear the other boys when they come through if they're the third or fourth. It'll be easier for them."

Australia has previously had a limited number of players of Indian-heritage in domestic first-class cricket, while Tanveer Sangha and Gurinder Sandhu have represented the country of late.

But Singh believes that should be just the start of things to come.

"Every grade competition you see the highest run-scorer is Indian all the time," Singh said.

"Most of them are just coached by Neil. He's done a fantastic job out there. And it just keeps getting better and better.

"And I'd say it's about time that more of them come through."

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