English County Cricket is more often than not referred to as the place where cricketers go to perfect their skills and become more mature. The seasons are hard, gruelling and action-packed. The standard of cricket is pretty high in County cricket and conditions aren’t always ideal for the sport. The players have to look after themselves and that helps them in becoming independent as individuals as well.
Over the years, there have been around 40 Indian cricketers who have had a taste of English County cricket. Here we’ll look at the ones who stamped their authority in the English countryside.
Farokh Engineer holds the record for scoring the most runs by any Indian batsman in English County cricket. The wicketkeeper-batsman represented Lancashire during his stint, scoring 5549 runs in 164 matches, which included 22 fifties and four hundreds.
BISHAN SINGH BEDI
Bishan Singh Bedi plied his trade with Northamptonshire in English County cricket. He made his county debut in 1972 and eventually went onto play 102 matches for his team. The left-arm spinner bamboozled the best batsmen in County circuit and picked up 394 wickets at an average of 21.16.
MANSOOR ALI KHAN PATAUDI
Tiger Pataudi led the charge with Indians in County cricket. He led Sussex in the 1970s and scored 2874 runs in 82 matches for his county. The dynamic Indian captain’s father, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was the first from his country to play in English County cricket in 1932.
The great Indian batsman had one stint in English County cricket with Somerset. He played 15 first-class matches for his county, scoring 686 runs at an average of 34.29 with one hundred to go along with it.
India’s current head coach Ravi Shastri made his County debut in 1987 with Glamorgan and went on to play 60 matches for the team. With 3296 runs at an average of 41.72, he is India’s second-highest run-getter in County cricket.
Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin was an absolute star in English County cricket. He represented Derbyshire for 29 matches and stacked up 2485 runs at an average of 51.77. Azharuddin has the best batting average amongst the Indians who have played 20 or more matches and also has the most centuries (8).
In 1992. Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in the English County circuit and became the first overseas player to be signed by Yorkshire. The then 19-year old Tendulkar played one season in County cricket, managing to score 1070 runs at an average of 46.52.
India’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket has represented three county teams in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Surrey from 1995 to 2006. He played 32 matches for these teams. His best performance came in his debut season for Northamptonshire where he was the leading wicket-taker with 105 wickets and was the only bowler to pick up more than 100 wickets in that season.
Rahul Dravid had always been keen on honing his batting skills in testing English conditions by playing county cricket. In 2000, he got a chance to play for Kent and he didn’t think twice before taking up the offer. Dravid had a successful stint with Kent aggregating 1221 runs from 16 first-class matches (15 county games and one tour match against Zimbabwe) at an average of 55.50, that included two hundreds and eight fifties.
Known as Mr County Cricket from India, Murali Kartik has vast experience of playing in the English County circuit. He played for Lancashire in 2005 and 2006 before moving to Middlesex for the next three years. He played a couple of seasons with Somerset in 2010 and 2011 and finally rounded it off with a stint at Surrey in 2012. Kartik became the first overseas player for Lancashire to take 10 wickets on his debut and at Middlesex, he was voted as the best overseas player after the great Desmond Haynes.
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