Cricket is a game that brings together people from different religions, castes, and creeds. India, a country with a rich and diverse culture, has produced many cricketers who have represented the nation with pride and honour. Among them, there have been some cricketers who belong to the Christian faith, a minority community in India. In this article, we will look at the history and achievements of some of the Christian cricket players who have played for India.
Vijay Samuel Hazare
The first Christian to play Test cricket for India was Vijay Samuel Hazare, who made his debut in 1946 at Lord’s against England. Hazare was one of the finest batsmen of his era, and is regarded as one of the greatest Indian cricketers of all time. He scored 2,192 runs in 30 Tests, with seven centuries and nine fifties. He also captained India in 14 Tests, and led them to their first ever Test victory against England in 1952 at Madras. He was also the first Indian to score a Test double century, when he made 205 against Australia at Adelaide in 1947-48.
Another Christian who played alongside Hazare was Chandu Borde, who made his debut in 1958 at Bombay against West Indies. Borde was a versatile all-rounder, who could bat, bowl, and field with equal skill. He scored 3,061 runs in 55 Tests, with five centuries and 18 fifties. He also took 52 wickets with his leg-spin, and held 50 catches. He was also a successful captain, leading India in seven Tests, and winning three of them. He was also the manager of the Indian team that won the World Cup in 1983.
The next Christian to play Test cricket for India was Roger Binny, who made his debut in 1979 at Bangalore against Pakistan. Binny was a medium-pace bowler, who could swing the ball both ways. He also had a useful lower-order bat, and was a brilliant fielder. He took 47 wickets in 27 Tests, and scored 830 runs with three fifties. He was also a key member of the World Cup winning team in 1983, where he was the leading wicket-taker with 18 scalps. He also played an important role in India’s first ever Test series win in England in 1986.
Binny’s son Stuart Binny also played Test cricket for India, making his debut in 2014 at Nottingham against England. Stuart Binny was also an all-rounder, who could bat aggressively and bowl medium-pace. He played six Tests for India, scoring 194 runs with one fifty, and taking three wickets. His most memorable performance came in his second Test at Lord’s, where he scored an unbeaten 78 in the second innings to help India win by 95 runs. He also holds the record for the best bowling figures by an Indian in ODIs, when he took six for four against Bangladesh in 2014.
Another Christian who played Test cricket for India along with Stuart Binny was Varun Aaron, who made his debut in 2011 at Mumbai against West Indies. Aaron was a fast bowler, who could clock speeds of over 140 kmph. He played nine Tests for India, taking 18 wickets with one five-wicket haul. His best bowling figures came against Australia at Brisbane in 2014-15, where he took three for 106. He also played nine ODIs and nine T20Is for India.
A hard-hitting batsman and a wicket-keeper, who has played 46 ODIs and 13 T20Is for India. He was part of the World T20 winning team in 2007, where he played a crucial role in the bowl-out against Pakistan. He also had an outstanding IPL in 2014, in which he scored 40 or more in ten successive innings for title winners Kolkata Knight Riders, and was the leading run-scorer of the tournament with 660 runs. He has also played for Mumbai Indians, Pune Warriors, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. He announced his retirement from all Indian and international cricket in 2022.
A middle-order batsman, who has played ten ODIs for India. He made his debut against West Indies in Toronto in 1999 and scored his highest score of 39 against Australia in Nairobi in 2000³. He was also selected to tour Australia in 1999-2000, but did not get a chance to play a Test match. He had a long and successful domestic career, scoring over 9000 runs in first-class cricket for Baroda, Railways and Assam. He also captained Baroda to their maiden Ranji Trophy title in 2000-01.
A fast bowler, who could clock speeds of over 140 kmph. He is the son of Indian long jumper, TC Yohannan, who held the national long jumping record for almost 30 years and was part of the Indian contingent at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was the first cricketer from Kerala to represent India at the international level. He played three Tests and seven ODIs for India between 2001 and 2002. He made his Test debut against England at Mohali and picked up the wickets of Michael Slater in both innings. His best bowling figures came against Australia at Brisbane in 2014-15, where he took three for 106. He also played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL in 2009.
A fast bowler and a tail-end batsman, who has played two Tests and one ODI for India. He made his Test debut against Australia at Delhi in 1996 and took the wickets of Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh in the first innings. He also played a Test against South Africa at Durban later that year, but could not take any wicket. His only ODI appearance came against Pakistan at Toronto in 1998, where he bowled four overs for 27 runs without any success. He had a decent domestic career, taking over 100 wickets in first-class cricket for Karnataka.
Christian cricket players who have played for India have made significant contributions to the game, and have enriched the diversity and inclusiveness of the Indian cricket team. They have shown that cricket is a sport that transcends religion, and celebrates talent and passion. They have also inspired many young cricketers from the Christian community to pursue their dreams and aspirations.