26th January 2015
Harj part of Lions set-up
Leicestershire may not have had a player selected in the England Lions squad who are currently in South Africa, but the county has been represented in the tour party.
Harj Singh, who has been the club doctor at Grace Road for almost a decade in addition to working with various other local sports teams and organisations, is making his first Lions tour, and relishing the experience.
“I’ve been away with the England under-19s before but I was delighted to be given the chance to travel and work with the Lions,” said Harj, a Leicester-born father of three who is a consultant in sports medicine at the city’s General Hospital as well as working as a GP.
“I used to go to Grace Road to watch the cricket as a child, so I was delighted to get involved when I was first approached by James Whitaker. My first involvement was actually on an under-19s tour to Bangladesh working for the England and Wales Cricket Board, and then I started with the county.
“I’ve had some great times – I think of the Twenty20 wins at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge – and also worked with some great characters. I particularly remember a pre-season tour to India when Paul Nixon and Phil DeFreitas dressed up in traditional Indian garb, complete with turbans.
“I am dual qualified as a specialist in sports medicine and general practice. Travelling with squads does bring unique challenges for a doctor, especially in the Indian sub-continent. I recall putting up an intravenous drip in a hotel room and stitching by candlelight.
“Working within sport has given me opportunities to work with people I would only have dreamt of meeting - I recall meeting some Bollywood stars during the pre-qualifying tournament for the Champions League T20 in 2011.
“It has also allowed me to visit places I would perhaps normally not have seen. During a trip to Pakistan I was able to visit the villages which were home to my parents before the Indian partition.”
In addition to his work with the County and the ECB, Harj was part of the medical team at the Tigers from 2006-9, and has now moved on to football with Leicester City. “Each of the sports is different,” he added. “One of the extra challenges is trying to fit seamlessly into the team when you are often attendant part-time.”
On the evidence of this Lions tour, Harj is a natural at that, whether checking that the players have filled in their daily medical questionnaire or retrieving balls at net practice. He’s also run into a number of old friends from Grace Road, with Ottis Gibson a member of the Lions coaching staff, and HD Ackerman working as batting coach for the South Africa A team.
* Thanks to Andy Wilson at the ECB for providing this article.