Former India wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani will soon receive the BCCI Colonel CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award. The Bangalore-based stumper thoroughly deserves the honour for his contribution to Indian cricket (88 Tests, 2759 runs, 198 dismissals), but the diarist has enough reason to disagree with the timing.
Syed Kirmani, Farokh Engineer. Pics/Sameer Markande, Suresh KK
Wasn’t Kirmani an understudy to Farokh Engineer? Didn’t Engineer get picked for two Rest of the World teams in 1970 and 1971-72? A few years before that, Engineer fell short of only six runs to become the first Indian batsman to score a Test hundred before lunch against Garry Sobers’ West Indians in 1967. Doubtless, Engineer deserves the CK Nayudu honour before the much-loved Kiri.
Daily Dossier reiterates that there is no intention to take credit away from Kirmani, but there should be some order in merit. The BCCI’s press release mentions Kirmani kept to the famous spin quarter (Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan), but Engineer, kept well to them as well in the first half of their careers — from 1966-67 to 1974-75.
Yesterday, when mid-day broke the news to Engineer through a phone call to his United Kingdom home, he appeared shattered. “I am happy for my buddy Kiri, but I would be lying if I said I am not disappointed. I am very disappointed because there should have been some importance given to seniority. It feels awful when you get ignored by your country like this.”
Cricket teaches one to accept the umpire’s decision and Engineer, like an old-fashioned cricketer, will do so. Hopefully, his chance will come next year. Unless the BCCI reckons Engineer does not deserve their lifetime award. And that would be a travesty. Every living Indian player, save Engineer and S Abid Ali in the famous 1971 Oval Test playing XI against England, has received the BCCI lifetime achievement award. Surely, that victory counts for something.