Farokh Engineer: A Man Forgotten in Indian Cricket
Engineer was probably India's first dasher. It is unfortunate that he was stuck with a team which lacked confidence and often looked out of sorts.
I often heard people say that Sunil Gavaskar was the first Indian who was ready to take on the Windies pace battery consisting of Andy Roberts, Micheal Holding, Malcolm Marshall, and Joel Garner.
But Engineer was the first. The only difference was that he was not the most brilliant of batsmen and that is why he did not succeed as often as Gavaskar did.
Engineer, for me, was also a very important person in the team as he had arrogance. And not of the fake kind that many of the current players possess. Nor was it hollow.
I am sure that Gavaskar grew in confidence very much because of this. In fact, I think almost everyone grew in the team grew in confidence because of this.
This arrogance was good enough to match the haughtiness of the white-skinned players. Unlike today, they were times when there was definite element of racism in many of the whites.
But no one would mess with Engineer. They knew he was not going to get pressed easily like the rest of them. In fact, there was a very high possibility that they themselves would have got pressed by him.
Engineer's batting was also something that was quite remarkable. He usually played in the lower order but was often asked to open.
He was quite successful at the top of the order, scoring both his centuries at this position. He was also the opener for India in the very first cricket world cup that was played. And he scored India's first ODI fifty.
Talking about his arrogance and his batting, I forgot to mention about his keeping skills.
Yes, he was a keeper. A fine keeper.
He was a big built person, but he was as agile as anyone today. Take a look at Mark Boucher, the South African wicketkeeper; he is the closest to what Farokh was in built.
The biggest proof of his quality is that he kept well to the Indian spin quartet—Bedi, Prassana, Chandrashekhar and Venkatraghavan. And mind you, they weren't easy to pick. None of the modern greats(as keepers) have not do manged this feat.
So overall, Farokh Engineer was the Mahendra Singh Dhoni of his times. Which is a very sad way of explaining things, as in reality, I think Dhoni is the Farokh Engineer of today. But I can't help it, so many people don't know his value. His figures, though decent, do not make him "comparable" to Dhoni.
Maybe, if he would have played today, we would have realised how well he could bat with these big bats we have today. And given the way he used to bat, I am sure he would have been one of the best and the most expensive buys in the IPL.
Along with playing for India, Engineer also played for Lancashire, the English county team, and was a crucial player in their lineup as well. Later Farokh settled in England.
Despite his flamboyant batting skill, spot on keeping skill, high-quality arrogance, and dashing looks, he is still not known as well as Syed Kirmani, the keeper who succeeded him. Just because Kirmani was a part of the winning side in the 1983 World Cup.
It is not that Kirmani does not deserve the fame. He was a fine keeper too. But just not as much as Farokh deserved it.
What a great 14 year career (1961-75). What a great Farokh.
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