London: British Test cricketer of Bengal descent Isa Guha has called on Indian families based in the UK to support England first and India second in cricket matters. The 29-year-old, who was part of the World Cup winning England women's cricket team, has become the first female expert to join the BBC's Test match summarising team alongside the likes of Geoffrey Boycott.
"I've always been an England fan. I was born and bred here," she told 'Radio Times' in an interview. She said that she supported India as a second team "whenever England aren't playing". "I do pass the Tebbit test, you know," she added. The phrase refers to an infamous 1990 interview in which former British Cabinet minister Lord Norman Tebbit said: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test.
Which side do they cheer for? Are you still harking back to where you came from, or where you are?" Guha, the first Indian-origin player in England's women's squad, feels "it's about changing the mindset of Asian communities; that it's okay to play for England. Parents and families generally support the countries that they come from ¿ India, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
During a decade-long career she was part of England teams that won the women's Ashes and World Cup, retiring from international cricket in 2012 after 113 caps. Guha is the first woman to become a regular summariser on BBC's Test Match Special since its inception in 1957. She will be giving expert comments at the end of an over being bowled.
Her love of cricket was a result of her cricket fan father from Kolkata, who encouraged his children to follow the sport as they grew up in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Guha practised in the garden with her older brother and joined a local boys' team when she was eight, before she was talent-spotted by the England women's development squad at 13.
She made her England debut in 2002. "I guess I was one of the lucky ones, because my mum used to ferry me round in the week and my dad at the weekend, to games and training around the country. They always supported my desire to play for England. There are still traditional Asian families who don't offer that sort of support," said Guha.
"Thirty per cent of cricketers in this country are from an Asian background but there are huge amounts of players from Asian backgrounds who perhaps don't feel there is a pathway for them to the England team," she added.