18-year-old left-arm pacer Rex Rajkumar Singh becomes the first from Manipur to make it an Indian side after he picked up all 10 wickets in an innings during a Cooch Behar Under-19 Trophy match against Arunachal Pradesh.
In December 2018, 18-year-old left-arm pacer Rex Rajkumar Singh made the cricketing fraternity sit up and take notice after achieving the rare feat of picking up all 10 wickets in an innings during a Cooch Behar Under-19 Trophy match against Arunachal Pradesh in Anantpur. His figures of 9.5-6-10-11 were simply staggering and even drew comparisons with the veteran pacer Irfan Pathan.
The hardwork he has put in has finally reaped rewards as he becomes the first player from Manipur to be selected in a representative Indian team. Rex was picked in India’s Under-19 squad for the 4-day games against South Africa U-19 this month.
Born in Sagolband Moirang Hanuba, Rex’s journey to cricket began with a tennis ball in front of a small ground near his house. “I used to practice Taekwondo and play football in the ground but the interest never materialised,” said Rex.
It was there that Ph Rohendro Singh, who is currently his coach, noticed his talent and brought about the transition from tennis ball cricket to the leather one.
“What caught my eye was that even as a 10-year-old he was bowling quick and maintained discipline. That prompted me to take him under my wings and today I am happy that he has excelled,” said coach Rohendro Singh.
“Bowling at the age of 10-11 with a leather ball helped me a lot. Added to that my coach guided me well on how to hold the ball and also told me the importance of the wrist position,” recalled Rex.
It was not long before Rex’s first notable performance came in his initial BCCI tournament in Ranchi in 2014 where he picked up a five-wicket haul against Bihar U-16. Since then he’s never looked back, making an impact in every chance that has come his way.
His impressive performances in Cooch Behar Trophy opened the door for a spot in Manipur’s Ranji Trophy squad. Thereafter he did feature in a couple of first-class games but what caught everyone’s attention was his ability to move the red ball in the air.
Asked on who he admired, Rex named Anderson citing to the wrist positions that the England bowler had at display. “I love the way he grips and swings the ball and I watch his videos on youtube. Mithcell Starc is another bowler that I am looking forward to learn from,” he said.
Training sessions at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) helped the teenager get meaningful insights into the game. “It was an eye-opener. I came across certain aspects of the game that I had never thought of before. I was told of how to manage my diet and focus on my action,” he said.
“Now I know that to play at the top-level I need to grow my patience, work on my abilities and keep repeating my performances,” he further added.
Rex is also thankful to his father, who is a truck driver in Imphal, for supporting him financially. “For us, cricket is an expensive game and I am happy that I could make them proud. My father supported a family of three single-handedly and never allowed my cricket to stop. So I am really very happy,” he concluded.