Danny Batth - The half-Indian prince on course for the Premier League
Since Michael Chopra departed England to go and play for the Kerala Blasters, there has been a severe lack of footballers of Indian heritage playing in England; in fact, if you look at the top flight, it is entirely sparse of anyone with Indian heritage whatsoever. But for how much longer?
Going into the international break, Wolverhampton Wanderers sit on top of the English Championship and have kept the most number of clean sheets in the division -- an impressive eight shutouts in 16 games. It took the Molineux side until the 34th game to keep the same amount last year, a serious improvement.
A lot of this has to do with the new formation and training programme that ex-Porto manager Nuno Espirito Santo has implemented, but regardless, their position as top dogs would not have been possible without the correct personnel.
So what is the difference, personnel wise? If we look at the three centre-halves in isolation, Roderick Miranda and Willy Boly have been brought in from Portugal and Ryan Bennett was acquired on a free from Norwich.
Out from the back line went Ethan Ebanks Landell and Mike Williamson. So the centre-backs at the club from last season were: Kortney Hause, Conor Coady (a converted CB by Nuno), Romain Saiss (Primary position holding midfielder) and club captain Daniel Tanveer Batth.
Nuno plays with a 3-5-2 formation on the whole as Wolves manager, so Batth has had to effectively learn a new position because there are different demands when it comes to playing the aforementioned formation. So whilst in seasons gone by you may have seen him lumping the ball forward for the now departed Nouha Dicko to chase after, you now see a calm, ball-playing center half who isn't scared to travel with the ball.
Batth, who is from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands, has made no secret of his desire to represent the Indian National Team. However, he has hit somewhat of a brick wall because he is required to have an Indian passport to do so and the only way he can get one of those is by residing in India for two years, which is not something that is feasible at the moment.
He’d be able to if the Indian football association change their rules, who knows if there are any plans for that to happen, there are no rumblings of it as it stands.
The centre half’s links to India stem from his father’s side who is from Punjab, so whilst he may not be able to play for the India National side at present, there will no doubt be some growing interest in the Wolves' captain as they aim for a return to the Premier League, for the first time since they’ve vacated since 2012, where Batth was at Wolves, but he was out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. So, if Wolves do maintain their form, it would be the first taste of the Premier League for Batth.
With that, that would open unprecedented exposure for India in the Premier League, not known since Chopra left and with Batth currently club captain, it would certainly be something that would spread like wildfire.
Batth has not been an ever-present in the side, this season, though, having found his matchday captaincy taken off him of by Conor Coady, whilst he was still kept as club captain, which indicates how highly regarded he is at the Molineux club.
He’s had to fight for his place, which would be something of a rarity for him because he was one of the first names on the team sheets for many seasons previously, but when called upon he has done very well and has started nine out of the 16 Championship games Wolves have played so far, as well as the four Carabao Cup games in which Wolves didn’t concede a goal.
Let's take a look at how he has fared for Wolves.
# 1 Made his debut in August 2010 in a League Cup victory at home to Southend
#2 Scored his first Wolves goal, two years later, in the same competition versus Northampton Town.
2012/13: 14 appearances and 2 goals. This was the year that Wolves got relegated to the third tier of English football and became the first English side to suffer successive relegations from the top flight to the third tier.
2013/14: 50 appearances, 2 goals and 11 bookings. The year that Batth truly established himself in the Wolves backline as Wolves won the league with a record 103 points.
2014/15: 46 appearances, 4 goals and 7 bookings. Wolves narrowly missed out on the playoffs on goal difference, Batth again featured regularly and was a vital part of the team.
2015/16: 39 appearances, 2 goals and 2 bookings. A season to forget for Wolves as a season that was filled with so much promise at the beginning nearly resulted in the disaster of relegation.
2016/17: 41 appearances, 4 goals and 11 bookings. A transitional season for Wolves as they were taken over by Fosun International. They missed out on number one managerial target Julen Lopetegui as he took the Spain job, so had Walter Zenga for the first few games and then Paul Lambert who guided them to safety as they flirted with the drop once more.
The leader on the pitch was Danny Batth and without his constant communication in addition to the attacking flair of Helder Costa and Co, it may well of been a very different story.
There were rumblings of a move away from Molineux in the summer but he has stayed true to the club that he has been with for twelve years and maybe, just maybe he’ll be rewarded come May.
Will he have the Championship trophy aloft? Will he be representing India in the Premier League next year? If he and Wolves carry up their fine form, he most certainly will, then just surely it’s a matter of time before India change the rules and allow him to play internationally!