Funny Farokh Engineer throws in some bluff as well at Cricket Club of India

Updated: Dec 05, 2019, 11:53 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

Former 'keeper Engineer's wit lapped up at Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture

Farokh Engineer delivers the Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture at CCI yesterday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Farokh Engineer delivers the Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture at CCI yesterday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

Farokh Engineer performed a different role at the Cricket Club of India last evening. Departing from the regular lecture concept of the annual function held in memory of the deceased India batsman Dilip Sardesai, the erstwhile wicketkeeper-batsman virtually wore the robe of an after-dinner speaker, who regaled his audience.

Engineer stood up and spoke for a bit before sitting down for a Q and A session with ex-Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi. Both Podarites albeit of a different era, their conversations revolved a bit on the Matunga East college where Engineer admitted he received various concessions.

Not far away from Podar College is Don Bosco, where Engineer did his schooling. Departed screen star Shashi Kapoor was his classmate and Engineer's wicketkeeping promise showed up when he dived to stop a duster thrown by the teacher in Kapoor's direction. "I told Shashi that had it not been for me, you would have only got villain roles," said Engineer.

Engineer off the mark

The lovable Parsee is also prone to indulge in bluff. That came through on Wednesday evening at least on a couple of occasions. It is true that he figured in two Rest of the World sides—one in 1970 which played the Englishman; the second time being in the series against Australia in 1971-72. However, Engineer told the gathering that the Rest of the World team for one of these two series was picked by Sir Don Bradman, Sir Len Hutton and Sir Frank Worrell. Wonder how Worrell could be part of a selection committee in 1970 when he passed away in 1967, a good three years before the first of the two series.

Grand welcome

He also recalled how the rest of the teammates were accorded a grand welcome on their return from the victorious tour of England in 1971 but he had to return to county cricket for Lancashire in a Roses match against Yorkshire. "As I went up to open the innings with David Lloyd, the whole crowd stood up, applauded me and David," he said. Yes, Engineer played a match immediately after the Oval triumph and that spoke volumes of his professionalism, but that was against Derbyshire in Manchester. As for opening the innings, Lancashire used Lloyd and Barry Wood in both innings! The prankster in him showed up when Engineer revealed how he, MAK Pataudi and Sardesai arranged for their teammates to be alerted about a hurricane which was to hit the Caribbean on their 1961-62 tour there. One night, the players were asked to leave everything and come down to the reception no matter how they were dressed. When the players—some in their pyjamas—arrived at the reception only to find the trio missing, they realised they were hoodwinked.

The event was also attended by the wives of late cricketers Ajit Wadekar and Eknath Solkar, and Engineer was delighted to see them in the audience. He recalled playing with and alongside Wadekar on the Mumbai cricket circuit and praised Solkar for his bravado, standing at short leg. "Players like Ekkie made our spin quartet," said Engineer. Earlier in the evening, the Sardesai family presented Engineer a framed sketch done by Austin Coutinho of Engineer walking out to bat with Sardesai.

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