T20 World Cup: From Singapore to Australia, via IPL — the Tim David story

When Western Australia decided not to offer him a senior contract, Tim David decided to pursue international cricket for Singapore. Success in the Big Bash, IPL, and other franchise leagues soon got him the Australia cap. Coach Allenby says David’s success mantra has to do with his approach: whether he is playing club cricket on Saturday or for Australia, he is committed to his aggressive style of play.

For Australia, Tim David has so far scored 167 runs in 10 innings. Coach Jim Allenby said, “We have not even come close to seeing his best yet.”

For Australia, Tim David has so far scored 167 runs in 10 innings. Coach Jim Allenby said, “We have not even come close to seeing his best yet.” | Photo Credit: Getty Images

When Western Australia decided not to offer him a senior contract, Tim David decided to pursue international cricket for Singapore. Success in the Big Bash, IPL, and other franchise leagues soon got him the Australia cap. Coach Allenby says David’s success mantra has to do with his approach: whether he is playing club cricket on Saturday or for Australia, he is committed to his aggressive style of play.

Tim David was just two years old when his parents shifted from Singapore to Perth. As a student of the iconic Scotch College, David grew up as just another kid, with a huge interest in sport — especially cricket. He would spend his weekends playing the sport he loved and ensured he was in front of the television every time Australia played.

It helped fuelled his interest in professional sport. And a few years later, when David played for South Shields in the United Kingdom’s Durham and North East League, the time he spent watching cricket on television helped.

Learning experience

Playing cricket in the U.K. was a learning experience for David. There’s a story in the local cricket circuit that Mike Fishwick, the then head of cricket at Durham school, was so impressed with David’s style of play that he once texted Justin Langer, asking him to keep an eye on ‘this kid called Tim David.’

Things seemed to be slowly falling in place for David around 2016. He won the medal for the best player in first grade Western Australia Premier Cricket and eventually made an impact with the Western Australia U-23 team. The cricketing fraternity was taking note. David finally made his debut for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League in 2018, earning his cap from Adam Gilchrist. It seemed like a fairy tale.

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Working under Langer was an experience for him and the next year he received a rookie contract from Western Australia. Just when things looked bright and sunny for David, there came a stress fracture to his foot. A few months later, Western Australia decided not to offer him to a senior contract and the then 23-year-old did not know what to do. “The traditional way wasn’t for him, so he had to do things differently,” Jim Allenby, David’s coach for the past eight years, tells Sportstar.

‘Great timing’

For David, doing things differently meant that he had to move to his country of birth, Singapore. He was eligible to be part of the team. The fact that his father Rod, an engineer, stayed for seven years in Singapore and also played a bit of cricket for the country, helped.

“Singapore was a great experience for him and it sort of helped him to get a hang of international cricket,” Allenby says. “It was just a great timing because back then, Singapore was playing in the T20 World Cup qualifiers and he was sort of available and could play those games…”

In Singapore, David’s moment of glory came when he top-scored with 41 off 24 deliveries against Zimbabwe in September, 2019. Though Singapore failed to qualify for the 2020 edition of the T20 World Cup, David maintained an average of 46.5. He was slowly being considered as a finisher in T20s.

Tim David was prolific for the Hurricanes in BBL 2020-21, scoring 279 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 153.29.

Tim David was prolific for the Hurricanes in BBL 2020-21, scoring 279 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 153.29. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

“He was travelling to Singapore for tournaments and was still coming back to Perth for training. He was still trying to play the Big Bash and also for Singapore, it did not happen that he could only choose one or the other…” Allenby says.

King of franchise cricket

In 2020-21, he featured in the Big Bash for the Hurricanes. Batting at No. 6, he ended with 279 runs in 14 innings, with a strike rate of 153.29. David was now getting noticed by different franchises across the globe and over the next few months, he featured in several tournaments. However, his big moment came in the Indian Premier League, when David was roped in by Mumbai Indians for a whopping ₹8.25 crore (USD 1,000,500 approx.) earlier this year. He scored 186 runs for a struggling Mumbai Indians at a strike rate of 216.28.

“The IPL was a big learning curve on the angles that you need to focus on … he worked hard with the coaching team there in the IPL to understand the different ways of playing,” Allenby says.

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According to the seasoned coach, “in Australia, people will always target short bowling to the longer boundaries. Try to hit across the ball. That was the first thing we worked on with the short ball and tried to make sure that he had to cope with the extra pace…”

Australia cap

With his reputation as an exceptional hitter established, David finally earned a call-up to the Australian team a few months ago. Given his exploits in franchise cricket, it is no surprise that he is one of the talking points in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Since making his debut for Australia on September 20 in a T20I against India in Mohali, David has featured in 10 games so far, amassing 167 runs. So far, in the T20 World Cup, Tim got an opportunity to bat only once — in the opener against New Zealand — and could only score 11 as his team suffered a big defeat.

But on the eve of Australia’s must-win fixture against Ireland at the Gabba, captain Aaron Finch indicated that David will play the role of an anchor. “Tim David has a lot more batsmanship and craft than people give him credit for,” Finch said on Sunday. “He is someone who could potentially go up and see an innings through…”

Tim David bats for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022. He scored 186 runs at a strike rate of 216.28.

Tim David bats for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022. He scored 186 runs at a strike rate of 216.28. | Photo Credit: SPORTZPICS/IPL

Allenby, a former cricketer himself, believes that one of David’s strengths is that he “prepares the same way” for every challenge. “Whether he is playing club cricket on Saturday or for Australia, he is very committed to his style of play, which is a very aggressive style of play,” Allenby says.

“He wants to hit the winning runs at the end of a game. The reason why Tim has done so well is because whoever he is playing for or against, his approach does not really change. It is very much assessing the bowlers to attack, whether it’s a 10-per over or 20, his intent stays the same.”

‘Hungry’

Whenever they train outdoors in Perth, this is something they speak about. “He is hungry to improve. Neither him nor me feel that he has reached anywhere near his potential. We have very high expectations of each other, so we are always looking at what we can do to improve his game and certainly broaden his ability and his way of playing…” Allenby says, quickly adding, “we have not even come close to seeing his best yet. His only goal is to improve any game and every session…”

Allenby believes that David’s game will evolve. “He needs to sharpen his game against extra pace and obviously against world-class spin,” he says.

While he has a clear understanding of how the franchise leagues operate, Allenby believes spending time with seniors in the Australian dressing room in this T20 World Cup will help immensely. “It is different to franchise cricket, where you sort of play more often and maybe in the same ground. In the World Cup, you are playing in a different ground everyday. He has to adapt to the conditions often and you don’t have an easy game at all…”

Before David joined the Australian team, he had long conversations with his coach and the two discussed a few points. “Off-season training is very much about improving technically and improving a player’s individual game, where we focus on the technicalities. When you train during the season, it is about assessing what the opposition is going to do, and trying to form a plan more week to week or game to game…” Allenby says.

A few years ago, when David failed to get a contract upgrade with Western Australia, not many thought the youngster would come so far. But by backing himself and proving the critics wrong, David has shown the world that with hard work and perseverance, dreams do indeed come true.

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