Tim David: How a replacement player became franchise cricket’s darling
One of the beneficiaries of the meritocracy that T20 franchise cricket so greatly upholds, Singapore born batsman Tim David has quickly risen into prominence around the globe.
David has been fantastic in T20 leagues all over the world and was recently signed up as a replacement player in the mighty Indian Premier League (IPL).
But Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) latest recruit has had some journey. The word “replacement” has been a constant throughout Tim David’s career where he has filled up a void for many teams and has grabbed every opportunity that has come his way.
One can argue he has been a touch fortunate to have got some unexpected gigs but it is only a reward for the hardwork put in by the man, who has been a consistent performer with the bat in various roles.
Tim David flourishing every step along the way
In his first major gig, Tim David came on board as a replacement signing for Lahore Qalandars ahead of the second half of PSL 2021 and scored 180 runs from his six innings at an average of 45 and strike-rate of 166.66. Asked to do the tough job in the middle-order on dry, spin-friendly surfaces, David showed off his impressive range, being able to maintain consistency with explosiveness in conditions quite alien to him.
As it panned out, his great run in the latter portion of PSL 2021 helped David earn his maiden contract in the IPL with RCB. With the second half of IPL 2021 also happening in UAE, RCB team management couldn’t look past him as an ideal replacement for New Zealand cricketer Finn Allen in the overseas category. IPL teams rarely find foreign cricketers with such robust skills and the RCB think-tank pounced on the opportunity.
At the RCB, David will get the chance to play in a rich batting unit, featuring big names like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell. The presence of these great gents will help him overcome any sort of nerves he maybe carrying into the tournament and allow him the comfort and the freedom to play his naturally aggressive game.
But before going from a PSL maverick to becoming an IPL recruit, Tim David had another stroke of good luck falling in his favour. The Singaporean had an interesting start to July where his brief stint in the Dutch second-division cricket led to a short stint with popular English county club Surrey in the T20 Blast.
With Surrey losing multiple first-choice players due to injuries, the club signed David as a replacement player and the 25-year-old right-hand batsman played two Blast fixtures for them. But that wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t played in the Dutch domestic game just prior to signing up with Surrey.
Had David not featured for Quick Den Haag in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, he would not have got the quarantine exemption that he received from the UK authorities because of his presence in the Netherlands, which is on a much more travel-friendly ‘amber’ list of the English government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The batsman only had to give multiple negative tests and he was allowed to take the field for Surrey. What is amazing here is that playing in the Netherlands was a change in his initial plan for the Australia-based Singaporean cricketer. Wary of having to do a hard quarantine upon reaching Australia, David signed up for the Dutch league and it paved way for his Blast stint.
“After finishing the PSL in the UAE recently, I decided to play some league cricket in Holland instead of flying back to Australia to quarantine and I am really excited that an opportunity has come up,” he had signed in a Surrey media release at the time.
One obvious question that pops in everyone’s head when it comes to Tim David is why is he based in Australia despite being a Singapore international? The answer to that lies in his backstory that saw him getting born in Singapore in 1996. Originally from Australia, David’s family had moved to Singapore in the early 1990s. But only two years after he was born, Rod David – Tim’s father – who was a professional engineer but played cricket for Singapore in 1997, decided to move back to Perth in Western Australia.
Down Under, junior David saw his father turn up regularly in club cricket and he was inspired to follow in his footsteps. He started playing club at an early age before quickly progressing into the West Australia U-19 side. Success didn’t come easy for the batter, whose breakthrough season arrived in the U-23 category.
Back in 2018, David scored over 400 runs in five matches for WA U-23 and that earned him a gig with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League (BBL). But that stint turned out to be brief as he picked up a stress fracture and resumed playing for Claremont-Nedlands Cricket Club in early 2019.
At this point in time, Tim David developed a dream to play for Australia. He had played for Scorchers and was on a rookie contract with WACA. But then a sad turn of events saw him getting delisted by the state association selectors and his BBL side also didn’t offer him a contract. This is when he decided to return to Singapore where they welcomed him wholeheartedly.
David has represented Singapore in 14 T20Is and has an eye-catching record since making his debut via the T20 World Cup qualifiers in 2019. He has scored 558 runs and averages 46.50 with a strike-rate of 158.52 for the country of his birth. He was instrumental to Singapore cricket’s biggest moment, winning a T20I against Zimbabwe back in 2019. In his country’s first win over a full-member Test-playing bation, David smashed a 24-ball 41, including four sixes.
But the desire to represent Australia hasn’t diminished for Tim David, who played the BBL again last summer for the Hobart Hurricanes and scored 279 runs while maintaining a strike-rate of 153.29.
“Of course, I have the ambition to play for Australia,” David had told ESPNcricinfo. “If that opportunity comes up, then I would love to take that. But, at the moment, I am happy playing for Singapore.”