England pick ?doosra? Turbanator | india | Hindustan Times
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England pick ?doosra? Turbanator

THIS MARCH will see a never-before sight ? a turbaned English cricketer turning out against India. On Friday, 23-year-old left-arm spinner Monty Panesar became the 16th member of the Test squad for the tour of India. He is set to be the first Sikh to make his England Test debut.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 01:24 IST

THIS MARCH will see a never-before sight — a turbaned English cricketer turning out against India.

On Friday, 23-year-old left-arm spinner Monty Panesar became the 16th member of the Test squad for the tour of India. He is set to be the first Sikh to make his England Test debut.

Talking to HT from Lord's, Panesar, whose parents moved to England from Ludhiana in the 1970s, said he was extremely proud of being a Sikh and an Englishman but his focus was firmly on cricket.

"I follow the principles of Sikhism but I'm very involved in English culture. This is my home," he said. Panesar, who last visited India three years ago, is fluent in Punjabi, watches Bollywood movies, listens to Hindi music and bhangra, and looks up to his Northants’s teammates Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey.

"But right from when I was a kid, my role model has been Sachin Tendulkar," said Panesar, who also counts Phil Tuffnell and Bishan Singh Bedi among his inspirations.

The questions about Panesar's "dual" identity (he says they coexist) are inevitable but David Capel, academy director at Northamptonshire and someone who has watched Panesar grow up, said there was no conflict. "Obviously, he has always had a keen interest in India's matches but he's completely English," said Capel. "He has always fitted in beautifully." Panesar made a special trip to Delhi to see Bedi a while ago. "He's a lovely boy," said Bedi. "He comes from a humble background. His father is builder who does masonry and woodwork, and Monty himself is a very spiritual, quiet person."

Bedi said he thought Panesar's bowling had a natural flow. "He has a beautiful action but just a bit on the quicker side, like all kids exposed to too much one-day cricket today. He's very committed but probably needs to work on his athleticism, fielding and batting."