MELBOURNE: The son of Punjabi immigrant farmers, Tanveer Sangha, 19, has become only the second person of Indian origin to make it to the Australian men’s national cricket team. The leg-spinner will be part of the 18-man squad for the Australia-New Zealand T20 series in February this year.
“I was over the moon when I got the call. It took a while for it to sink in… I did not expect to be selected at such a young age,” Tanveer told TOI on Thursday.
In the past, Indian-origin cricketers have played in Australian teams but at the domestic or U-19 levels – Jason Sangha, Arjun Nair, Param Uppal. But only Gurinder Sandhu, born to Punjabi parents, had made it to the international men’s cricket team before Tanveer. That was six years ago. Besides that, three players whose parents were born in India or had an India connect had been part of the Australian men’s team – Bransby Cooper (1877), Rex Sellers (1964), Stuart Clark (2006).
Tanveer’s parents had moved to Sydney from Jalandhar in 1997. His father, Joga Singh Sangha, was a farmer in Punjab who moved to Australia on a student visa. He worked on a farm and then started driving a taxi – he still does. His mother, Upneet, is an accountant.
“Tanveer is a natural sportsperson. He played volleyball, rugby and kabaddi growing up,” Joga said. “When Tanveer was 10, he showed interest in cricket.” By the time he was 12, I got him to play in local adult cricket teams.”
Tanveer added, “The school I attended, East Hills Boys High School, was the same that Steve and Mark Waugh had gone to.
Olympic gold medallist swimmer Ian Thorpe, too. It gave me access to a good cricket club.”
In 2018, Tanveer was spotted by Australian-Pakistani leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed in Melbourne. “This was during the second or third game of the U-16 series against Pakistan. Since that day, he has been my mentor,” Tanveer said.
His father veered him towards spin at the age of 13. “He is a very good batsman. He batted five times in the U-19 World Cup and had a strike rate of 85.26. To avoid a shoulder injury, I suggested he take up spin bowling instead of pace bowling,” Joga said. He was the highest wicket-taker for Australia in the U-19 World Cup, with 15 wickets in six matches.