Essex’s Illustrious Indians


Umesh Yadav may be the newest Indian cricketer to sign on the dotted line with Essex, but he is hardly the first to do so.

As one of the world’s most populous countries for much of its recent history, India has produced a long line of near-immortal cricketing talent.

Before Yadav, there were three players who came from the subcontinent to Chelmsford, each leaving their own mark on Eagles history.

In honour of the seamer becoming the latest in that line of players, this is a look back to recent years and Yadav’s three compatriots who preceded him.

Harbhajan Singh (2012)

Known as ‘The Turbanator’ on account of his ubiquitous headwear, which he in turn owes to his following of Sikhism, right-arm off-spinner Harbhajan arrived in Chelmsford for a short spell in late 2012.

He signed with the Eagles at a time when he had played 98 Test matches, 229 ODIs, and 23 T20Is, and made his debut away to Gloucestershire in Cheltenham.

Harbhajan pictures
That match was heavily rain-affected, and he received only a small opportunity to bowl, though he went on to take a total of 24 wickets in a further four LV= County Championship and five Clydesdale Bank 40 matches.

His best return in an Essex shirt came in the latter competition against the Netherlands, where he claimed figures of 5/37 in a crushing win at Castle Park in Colchester.

Gautam Gambhir (2013)

Signed for a short stint towards the end of the 2013 season, left-handed opening batter Gambhir was, at the time, an Indian great looking for a last hurrah with his national side.

He came to Essex at the age of 31, 14 years after making his first-class debut, with a CV containing more than 4,000 Test runs scored at an average of 44.19 in 54 matches, alongside a further 176 white-ball internationals.

Gambhir pictures
Much like his compatriot Harbhajan before him, Gambhir was given an opportunity to show his star power off at Castle Park, with a match against Northamptonshire being his debut in Essex colours.

He would go on to play a further four LV= County Championship and two Yorkshire Bank 40 matches, hitting a total of 262 runs, with a high score of 106 against Gloucestershire.

Murali Vijay (2018)

The most recent Indian international to represent Essex was right-handed opening batter Vijay, who had a three-game County Championship stint in September 2018.

Vijay’s career achievements were very similar to Gambhir’s by the time he pulled on an Essex shirt, having represented his country in 59 Test matches, scoring just shy of 4,000 runs in the format.

Vijay pictures
He made his debut away to Nottinghamshire, making an immediate impression with a first-innings fifty, before following it up in the second dig by going even better, hitting a full century as the Eagles won by eight wickets.

Vijay would go on to play further matches against Worcestershire and Surrey, totalling 323 runs in just five innings as Essex won all three of the matches he appeared in.