Due to its long colonial history, England now has an ethnically diverse population. Among the non-white people to have made this country their home, South Asians, especially Indians, stand out prominently. Obviously, when they immigrated, they took their cultural proclivities including their love for cricket with them.
No wonder then, that England's large cricket community has benefitted from the influx of cricketers belonging to Indian stock. If one scours through the county circuit, he will find a large number of players from South Asian background. Many of them have forged a successful career for their domestic teams while a few have managed to make a big splash even on the international stage. Let's look at five most prominent English cricketers of Indian origin who had some success at the top level.
Hussain will go down as one of the most important figures in English cricket history. Not just because he was the first person of Indian descent to captain the side but also because of his great strategic and tactical brilliance. Born in Chennai, Hussain's family shifted to England during his childhood. He took over the reins of English Test team towards the end of 1990s when they were at an all time low and even got booed at Lord's after his team lost a home series to New Zealand. Thereafter, Hussain formed a great partnership with Duncan Fletcher, the coach of the team, and revived England's fortunes. Shrewd, cunning, astute, Hussain was also known for being highly aggressive and adept at mind games. As a batsman, he wasn't stylish but doughty and tenacious. An Ashes double hundred in 1997 which led to his team's victory would remain his finest personal milestone.
Madhusudan 'Monty' Singh Panesar
Monty started his career well with some solid performances. But he didn't become a consistent performer and was eventually overtaken by Graeme Swann as England's lead spinner. But there was a revival of his fortunes in 2012 when England toured three Asian countries. He first had success in UAE against Pakistan but lost his place during the Sri Lanka tour. However, the greatest moment of his career, arguably, came in 2012 when his bowling proved the decisive factor in England's historic win in India. But Monty couldn't follow up these performances in Asia with results on non-Asian wickets and eventually went out of the Test team. Some late-night shenanigans at a night-club during 2013 summer also added to his woes. However, his brilliance on the India tour would remain a memorable performance.
Ravinder 'Ravi' Singh Bopara
Ravi Bopara is an immensely talented batsman who couldn't live up to his promise despite getting enough chances at the international level. Watching him bat, one can immediately guess his ethnic identity. He has those supple wrists and elegant style of stroke-making which is a trademark of Indian batting. And he seemed to cement his place in the team after scoring hundreds in three consecutive innings against West Indies in 2009. But Bopara completely faltered in the Ashes series later that year and could never regain his place. He did have some successful runs with the ODI team but was discarded after the 2015 World Cup debacle.
Mark Ramprakash's paternal family was from Guyana belonging to the Indian stock. He was enormously talented and seemed technically sound. Not surprisingly, Ramprakash got selected into the England team at the age of 21 but remained an inconsistent member of the team. He ended up playing 52 Tests without ever becoming a mainstay of the side. The right-hander could eventually score only two Test hundreds. Outside international cricket, he was a highly prolific player in county circuit and racked up more than 100 first-class hundreds. An enormously capable batsman, Ramprakash would be remembered as someone who didn't live up to expectations.
Belonging to the famous Gujarati Diaspora, Samit Patel was touted as a very competent all-rounder for England but couldn't achieve great results in international cricket. A good left-arm spinner and useful lower-order batsman, Patel broke into the England team as early as 2008 but didn't achieve much. He returned in 2011 and had modest success in all formats without setting the stage on fire. Eventually, not enough runs and not enough wickets meant that he was out of the team without much chance of regaining his place.