Not yet 20 and a veteran of just two first class matches, the Blacktown born 195cm giant is the type of success story Cricket Australia is desperate to promote, particularly in Sydney’s diverse western suburbs.
"There’s a heavy Indian population in western Sydney so I might be able to help," Sandhu told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.
Already Pakistan born but Sydney raised Usman Khawaja, 26, has played Test cricket for Australia and former Pakistan first class cricketer Fawad Ahmed, 31, is on the verge of gaining an Australian passport after an outstanding finish to the season for Victoria.
A refugee, just when Fawad will become a fully fledged Aussie depends on complex paperwork in Canberra.
It could be in the next week or two, which would give selectors the option of making him a late inclusion for the Ashes, and it should be no later than August, which means Fawad would be available for next summer’s return Ashes in Australia
Sandhu won the Steve Waugh Medal last season as the best NSW player after claiming 14 wickets at 12 in his two Sheffield Shield appearances, along with some strong state one-day form.
With his father arriving from the Punjab 30 years ago Sandhu is the first male player of Indian heritage to represent NSW and his brother is also making an impression. A hard-hitting all-rounder, Harmon has been chosen in the state under 17 team.
Sandhu’s early years as a junior cricketer in Blacktown highlight what an untapped cricket resource western Sydney appears to be, with 50,000 Indians a year now migrating to Australia.
"Only two or three of the kids were white,” Sandhu recalled. “The rest were Sri Lankan, Indian or Fijian Indian.”
Fast forward to Australia’s under 19 team from last season and Sandhu believes the only other non Anglo player in the side with him was West Australian spinner Ashton Agar, who has Sri Lankan heritage.
Sandhu has the perfect link to Sydney’s western suburbs as a member of the Thunder Big Bash team, which is being significantly upgraded under the leadership of Mike Hussey this year.
Like Khawaja, Sandhu is a little nonplussed by the fuss about his background.
Both are rugby league fans. Khawaja barracks for the Canberra Raiders and Sandhu the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
They understand their heritage is different but are as Aussie as every kid they ever played touch footy or park cricket with.
“You’re born here, you grow up, you do Aussie things, you are Australian,” Sandhu said.
Khawaja says it “feels a bit weird” when his background is highlighted.
“No one ever segregates me, I don’t feel any different when I’m with the boys,” Khawaja said before leaving for England last weekend with the Ashes squad.
“I’m very proud. I’m proud of what I am and who I am and I’m proud to be an Australian too.
“I love it here, it’s my home, my whole family and all my friends are here.
“I’m just really proud to be part of the Australian cricket team living the dream.”
An AIS scholar who has spent the past month at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane,
Sandhu is preparing to visit India, the epicentre of world cricket.
This is a big deal for Sandhu’s cricket development but he has been to India a number of times with his family.
He departs on June 14, his 20th birthday, for Chennai with a group of players heading to
the MRF Pace Academy made famous by Dennis Lillee.
Sandhu has been compared to a young Glenn McGrath, who is now the head coaching consultant at the MRF Academy.
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