22 August 17 The Straits Times by V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
When Navin Param sets off to bowl his off-spinners against Thailand in a SEA Games 50-overs cricket match today, he will likely find his cousin James Muruthi behind the stumps.
If he were to look towards the off-side, he would probably see his eldest brother, Anish, directing operations as captain of the Singapore men's cricket team at the Kinrara Oval.
A glance to the right would bring into focus elder brother Prasheen running in from mid-wicket, while a swivel over his shoulders would help him spot his cousin Diviya G.K., the captain of the Singapore women's cricket team, cheering them on from the stands.
Yes, five members of the Sreerangam clan are on international duty for Singapore at the SEA Games cricket tournaments in Kuala Lumpur.
All accomplished cricketers, they are excelling in a sport after following in the footsteps of Stacey Muruthi, who made his debut for the national team at the age of 16 and went on to play for the country for 32 years until 2001.
Muruthi's son James,2 9, is a wicketkeeper-batsman, while all-rounder Anish, 27, batsman Prasheen, 25, and opener and off-spinner Navin, 21, are the sons of his younger brother Sreerangam Paramanantham, 63.
Diviya, 30, a top-order batter and handy bowler, is the daughter of Muruthi's youngest sister Vannitha, 53.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Twin brothers Timothy and Mark Lee, 23. Brother Jonathan Chan, 19, and sister, women's artistic gymnast Colette Chan, 17.
Brothers Loh Kean Hean, 21, and Kean Yew, 20.
Brothers Anish Paraam, 27, Prasheen, 25, and Navin, 21, and cousin G K Diviya, 30 (women's team). Sisters Rajeswari, 29, Vigineswari Pasupathy, 27.
Sisters Catherine Chew, 28, and Caroline, 25.
Father and son Asad Jumabhoy, 57, and Ameer Jumabhoy, 28, and uncle Iqbal, 60.
Mother and son Low Luan Eng, 47, and Ang Han Teng, 25.
Cousins Lucas Ng, 28, and Miki Chong, 22.
Brothers Irfan Fandi, 20, and Ikhsan, 17.
Brothers Muhaimin Suhaimi, 22, and Muhelmy Suhaimi, 21.
Twin sisters Michele and Phebe Lau, 15.
Sisters Nurul Shafiqah, 23, and Suhaila, 22. Brothers Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau'ddin, 21, and Farhan, 19.
Brothers Haziq Zainal, 19, and Hasif Zainal, 17.
Sisters Sheryl, 17, and Michel Sim.
Brother Fung Jin Jie, 24, and sister Hui Xin, 20.
Sisters Cherie, 29, and Daphne Tan, 26.
Cousins Lionel Khoo, 22, and Samuel Khoo, 18. Brother Dylan Koo, 18, and sister Jamie Koo, 15.
Quah Ting Wen, 25, Zheng Wen, 20, and Jing Wen, 16.
Brothers Ishwarpal Singh, 24, (indoor hockey) and Jaspal, 22, (field hockey).
Women's indoor hockey
Sisters Joan Anne Lim, 28, Janna, 24, and Juliette, 21.
"My proudest moment in cricket was when I bowled along with my oldest son Peter in a match against Hong Kong in Bangkok in 2001," said Muruthi, 65, managing director of logistics company FLS, who became the captain of the national team at the age of 24 in 1978.
"Five members of my family playing at the SEA Games equals that. It's a great feeling. Pity Peter was not selected."
Peter, 31, an off-spinner, made his debut for Singapore at the age of 14. He and James were the first from the Sreerangam family to play for the national U-13s and they were followed into the various national age-group teams by the Param brothers - Anish, Prasheen and Navin.
"Our love for cricket was forged at the void deck of our grandparents' house in Ang Mo Kio," said Diviya, who has been the national women's team captain since 2009 and has played first-class cricket in the Netherlands and South Africa and club cricket in Australia.
"After lunch on Sundays, we cousins and uncle Stacey used to play fiercely-fought matches with a tennis ball and makeshift stumps (using biscuit tins). All of us developed our skills from those clashes."
Prasheen points out that Peter has the best cricketing knowledge among the cousins, while James is the most competitive and talented. "Peter is the leader of the pack," said Prasheen. "James toughened us up with his fielding drills, he has out-of-the-box ideas."
Among the Param brothers, Anish, who has a degree in business and finance from England's Durham University, is soft-spoken but the most hard-working.
In the past two seasons, he has done well with bat and ball in Australia's North-West Grade A matches and England's Sussex League Division One.
Prasheen, who is studying accountancy and business at Nanyang Technological University and initially played hockey for Singapore at the junior level, is a free-scoring, top-order batsman who has represented Singapore at all levels from U-13 .
Navin, who is pursuing a business degree at NTU, was the man-of-the-match when Singapore won the Asian Cricket Council U-16 Elite Cup in Nepal in 2010.
Interestingly, the three brothers had never played together for Singapore until the national team's SEA Games nine-wicket opening win over Indonesia last Thursday.
"It's a dream come true for all us to be playing together at the SEA Games," said Diviya, a country manager with wall-covering manufacturer Muraspec. "I have learnt a lot from my cousins. I am sure they will play an important role in bringing the Games golds to Singapore."
All credit to their parents for their booming cricketing careers.
Diviya said her mother never stopped her from playing cricket: "She allowed me to play wherever I wanted. Without her support, I will not be where I am now."