In the mid-80s,when Iqbal Sandhu of Faridkot left for Australia,his mind was clouded by the usual fears of an immigrant. Will he be accepted in an alien land?
Nearly three decades on,Sydney taxi driver Iqbal Sandhu thinks very differently. Australia is home now,and he is the proud father of a son who might well become the first cricketer of Indian origin to represent that country.
Eighteen-year-old Gurinder,a six-foot,broadly built fast bowler is currently representing the Australia under-19 side in a four-nation tournament that,incidentally,has India as a participant. Gurinder took the new ball in the opening game against England,and finished with figures of 10-3-32-2.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Townswhile,where the four-nation tournament is being played,Iqbal says he is living a dream. I exposed Gurinder to cricket from an early age. He was playing for the New South Wales U-10 and U-12 sides when he was just six years old. Right from those days,he has been proficient in both bowling and batting.
Gurinder,who bowls right-arm fast but bats left-handed,cant wait to take the field on Saturday,when Australia play India. It will be a big day for me. I will be in an Australian jersey playing against Indians, he says.
If I do well in this tournament,I will automatically be selected for the U-19 World Cup that will take place in Australia in August. Patrick Cummins rose to the Australian senior team by shining at the U-19 level,I too hope to do the same, says the Brett Lee fan who is coached by Greg Chappell at the national U-19 team.
Gurinder says his annual India visits have become less frequent since he took up cricket seriously,but has vivid memories of his familys original home. My father and mother (Mukhtyar) would take us to our native village Hardialeana in Faridkot district to spend time with our grandparents. As a child I was amazed to see children playing cricket in the lanes of my native village. I would join them and play with them, he recalls.
Gurinders younger brother Harman,15,plays for NSW at the U-16 and U-18 levels. Unlike in England,players from the subcontinent have found it hard to break into the Australian national team. Islamabad-born batsman Usman Khawaja last year became the first player of Asian origin to play for Australia.