You will find People of Indian Origin everywhere around the world - descendents of plantation workers in Fiji or Sri Lanka, descendents of indentured labourers or traders in Africa and the Caribbean, and the sons and daughters of more recent emigrants to the West.
Indians have always followed the fortunes of these PIOs closely and with great pride too. Although they have never lived in India, you will find that the achievements of Night Shyamalan in cinema, Vijay Singh in golf, VS Naipaul in literature, or Amar Bose of Bose speakers fame are treated as though these are Indian achievements.
But cricket is different! Cricket is a national passion and the thought of an Indian playing
for another country is somewhat of a dilemma. It mostly makes for a strong chai-time conversation. To add masala to chai, it takes on a more interesting dimension when
cross-country partnerships of a different kind are involved!
For instance, when Muthiah Muralitharan (Sri Lankan of Indian roots) married Madhi Malar (Indian Tamil),
it got everyone talking about which side Madhi supported when Sri Lanka played India.
"Of course, I will support my husband's team," Madhi declared in an interview. More recently, when Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik was engaged to Ayesha (a Hyderabadi), the subject was a hot topic in the countless Irani cafes of Hyderabad.
Even though he was neither born in India nor is married to an Indian, Monty Singh Panesar is being watched just as closely in India as he is in England. Indians consider him one of their own (even after he confessed that he does not remember the name of his favorite Bollywood actress!). And his performance in the first test so far has compounded the dilemma of the loyal Indian fan - especially after he bowled a tight spell and took two wickets - of star batsmen Tendulkar and Kaif!
The pressure on him will be even greater in Mohali - his 'home-away-from-home' ground - his grandparents are going to be in the stands.
Monty Singh Panesar may be the first Sikh to be playing for England, but he is not the first person of Indian origin playing for England. In fact, he has very interesting predecessors - from Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji ('Ranji') to Nasser
Hussain, sixteen Indian-born cricketers have represented England in Test cricket.
Hussain, the captain of the previous England side to
tour India (2001-02) spent the first few years of his
life in Madras, but he has made no bones that he feels
English through and through. Nasser's father Javed
(Joe) represented Tamil Nadu (then Madras) in the
And in these more enlightened times his accession to
the top job in English cricket in 1999 was widely
It was not always so.
Ranji's selection by England for the 1896 home series
against Australia was opposed by some in the cricket
He was not selected for the first Test at Lord's, but
such was the Indian prince's popularity that he was
brought into the team by public and media demand and
promptly scored 62 and 154 not out on debut in the
second Test at Old Trafford.
With his flashing strokeplay and his exotic Eastern
aura, Ranji was something of a cult figure even at a
time when the legendary WG Grace was at his peak.
Like Hussain a century later, Ranji too swore
allegiance to England and English cricket. He had contempt for the attempts by his fellow Indians
to play cricket and had no part in encouraging the
game back home.
His nephew KS Duleepsinhji maintained the family
tradition when he recorded a century in his first Test
against Australia, making 173 and 48 at Lord's in
Like Ranji, he faced objections from the
powers-that-be in English cricket and was also
unofficially banned from playing against the South
Another Indian-born England captain was Douglas
Jardine, who led the team on the infamous 'Bodyline'
tour to Australia.
In the party was Iftiqar Ali Khan, the Nawab of
Pataudi (father of former India captain Mansur Ali
Khan), who made it a hat-trick of princely tons on
debut with 102 in the first Test at Sydney.
But after just one more Test he was dropped for the
rest of the series apparently on the grounds that he
objected to the intimidatory tactics employed by his
Pataudi senior is the only man to have represented
both England and India in Tests, also captaining the
latter on their tour of England in 1946.
His son would lead India from 1962-70 and from
Many Englishmen were born in India during the days of
the British Raj and this was the case with Jardine
Unlike Ranji, Jardine did much to encourage cricket in
India. In fact, when it came time to choose a captain
for India on their maiden tour to England in 1932 the
names of both Duleep and Jardine were mentioned as
In more recent times, England were led by Colin
Cowdrey, whose father was a tea planter in the hill
town of Ootacamund in Tamil Nadu.
And opener John Jameson, who made his Test debut
against the country of his birth in 1971, was the
first English Test cricketer after Ranji, Duleep and
Pataudi whose parents were both Indian.
In the first Test against India at Edgbaston in 1996
there were four Bombay-born players, three on the
Indian side as well as spinner Min Patel making his
debut for England.
Ironically, a world-record holder for over 100 years
was also born in India but never even played
In June 1899, Arthur Edward Jeune Collins (born in
India in 1885) scored 628 not out in a junior house
match for Clarke's House against North Town while a
schoolboy at Clifton College in Bristol.
It remains the highest score recorded in an organised
He returned to India and played some cricket while
serving with the Army. But his military career meant
he had no time for top-level cricket.
Collins was killed in Flanders in 1914 during the
First World War.
By contrast, only four foreign-born players have
represented India: Lall Singh (Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia); Ashok Gandotra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil);
Salim Durani (Kabul, Afghanistan) and Rabindra (Robin)
Singh (Princes Town, Trinidad)