Many cultures, one team
Tuesday, 4th December, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
Over the past few years the South Broken Hill Cricket Club has established itself as a home for some of the cricket-mad immigrants that have made their way to Broken Hill.
South has welcomed players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal to go with the Australian-born club members.
RV Kumar and Ricky Kumar were among the first players to come out for the Roos while Mani Singh and Raws Thapa followed. Naj Soomro, Binu Sebastian, Vik Anand and Brijesh Chauhan have joined more recently while the likes of Shangy Chauhan, Anoop Joy, Praveen Liyanawadu and Naukhez Asif have also called South home during their time playing cricket in Broken Hill.
They’ve brought different cultures, backgrounds and experiences to the club but a common theme runs through and has endeared them to their new teammates; they love their cricket.
RV Kumar came to Broken Hill in 2013 having lived in Sydney since 2007 following a move from his home Chatisgarh in India.
The move to Broken Hill for Kumar was born out of love.
“I came here in June 2013 for Ricky’s (cousin Ricky Kumar) wedding and then I met Kirstie and after few months I decided to move to Broken Hill for the start of a new life,” Kumar said.
Kumar’s time in Broken Hill started off rocky, being unemployed for a number of months, but he’s now firmly entrenched in town working at Coles and now married to Kirstie with a son.
Like many that have joined South in recent years, Kumar started playing socially before joining.
“We Indian boys used to play cricket every Sunday and one day Sheldon Hall spotted us while he was doing his softball training and after a while he asked if we want to have a warm up game with SBHCC,” Kumar said.
“After that we joined the South Cricket Club. What I love about this club is we have a bunch of the best people around us who always look after you, keep you motivated and never give up and we are a family more than a club.”
Naj Soomro, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, made the move to Australia in 2011 before coming out to Broken Hill to take up employment at the Broken Hill Rural Clinical School.
For Soomro, an off-spinner and opening batsman, cricket has been a lifelong obsession.
“When I was 10 years old, Pakistan hosted the world cup in 1996,” he said.
“That inspired me to take up cricket and I have never looked back.”
A chance meeting with South CC President and A Grade skipper Ben Franklyn led Soomro to the club and the acceptance from the club has kept him around.
“I bumped into Ben through a mutual friend and he was very friendly so I ended up with South,” Soomro explained.
“It is the multi-culturalism, friendliness and opportunity to participate (at the club). I never felt I was an outsider.”
Binu Sebastian, from Kerala in India, joined South this season after following his wife who first made the move to work in town.
“My wife moved first to Australia, she got a job at the hospital and she started to like the place and people,” Sebastian said.
“I then moved to join her. People of Broken Hill are amazing. I work at the Demo Club as an ICT and Compliance Manager.”
Cricket has always been a passion for Sebastian but work had gotten in the way until some friends brought him out to play for South.
“Cricket was always my passion and I used to play cricket up until five years ago,” he explained.
“I then got busy with family and career, could not continue playing.
“I had my friends playing for South who introduced me to the club, and started playing for the club. South CC players are passionate about the game and keep the spirit of the game alive always. Cricket in Broken Hill is something that is getting people together, players are having a good time on the ground, and good performances are always recognised and being encouraged.”
Adding to the diverse nature of South’s squad is Raws Thapa who was born in Janakpur, Nepal. He moved to Australia in 2008 before taking up a position as a registered nurse in Broken Hill and he said that cricket has been a lifelong passion.
“I’ve played cricket since I was 10 years old,” Thapa said.
“I play for South because of people involved in cricket at South. They’re great team members, friendly and inviting. Cricket brings people together specially in small communities like Broken Hill.”
Mani Singh, a slashing batsmen into his third season for the Roos, was born in Mohali, India and moved to Australia five years ago.
“I moved to Australia in April 2013 as skilled migrant. I was digital circuit design engineer in India with seven-plus years of industry experience,” Singh explained.
“Moving to Broken Hill was not planned at all. When I moved to Australia, the first thing in my mind was getting a job in my own field.
“I expanded my job search and eventually I got a full time opportunity in a logistics company in Adelaide...and they asked me to go Broken Hill for a three month trial. Coming to Broken Hill turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“Within two years I formed my own logistics company and in three years’ time frame my company operations expanded to Adelaide. I now have 11 employees altogether in Adelaide and Broken Hill.”
Like many, Singh played cricket as a junior before study and work got in the way but a call up for South’s B Grade team led him back to the cricket pitch although it originally wasn’t going to be for the Roos.
“I used to play Gully (Street) cricket in India when I was young, which majority of kids do in India and is a very common sight. With time the passion for cricket was in my blood,” Singh said.
“I played a lot of cricket until college, after getting job in India due to work commitments ... Broken Hill was the place where I are started playing it again after a 10 year gap.
“I wanted to play for West, as my home is in the west, and had even attended my first practice session ever with West club but due to unexpected work commitments I couldn’t play that season.
“Then one day during that season I got a call from Matt Ali, then captain of South B Grade, to play a match for them as they were short of players. I said yes and in my first match scored 94 against West!
“That was the day I formally joined South Club and had played for South thereafter,” he added.
“I like playing for South now. I have seen South Club from the days of struggle to days of glory. The efforts put by Ben (Franklyn), Sheldon (Hall) and few others to lead this team, and turn this into an excellent unit.
“When you are part of something that has been built from scratch, you naturally develop a special bond with it. The South Club has special place in my heart.”
South President Ben Franklyn said that what started with Ricky Kumar has blossomed into a vital part of the club.
It started with big Ricky Kumar, his wife was friends with a few of us. We met Ricky then had a practice match with a lot of the Indian boys, it kind of kicked off from there,” Franklyn said.
“They all work hard, and love their cricket and they love Australia. The boys have been really receptive of the new lads, who often bring their families to our functions.
“Through training, playing and socializing we all have learnt a lot about each other’s cultures and way of life, from work, sport and religion.”
“It also sets up a platform for any new players that know the boys to come out here and work, knowing they also have a club and a sport which they love,” Franklyn added.
“We have had a few social functions together where the boys put on a night of traditional food, I can safely say this is a well-received event amongst the boys.”