Farokh Engineer's 'selectors served her tea' comment upsets Virat Kohli's wife Anushka Sharma
Ex-stumper Engineer apologetic after reportedly saying selectors served Anushka Sharma tea during last World Cup
Farokh Engineer reached out to his "friend" Ravi Shastri to put him in touch with Virat Kohli yesterday evening after the former India wicketkeeper's comments in a national daily upset the India skipper's Bollywood actor wife Anushka Sharma.
While ridiculing the credentials of MSK Prasad's selection committee, Manchester-based Engineer, now in India, reportedly claimed that one of the five selectors was seen serving tea to Anushka during a World Cup match in England.
'High regards for both'
"I believe Virat is upset about it [reported comments]. I would love to speak with him. I am trying to get in touch with Ravi and connect with him. I am friendly with Ravi and if I had Virat's number, I would [have] certainly called him. Virat and Anushka are an inspiration to all Indians. I have the highest regard for them. They make for an ideal couple and we are very proud of them," Engineer, 82, told mid-day yesterday.
When asked about his "getting her cups of tea" comment, Engineer said it was off the cuff. "I was sitting in a group of Test cricketers in England. There were two or three Indian Test cricketers, some from Australia and England as well. I won't give you their names but one guy was sitting in an Indian blazer, so they asked me who he was and I didn't know him. Someone pointed out that he was an Indian selector. So that's how it started.
"It was something mentioned off the cuff that the selector was serving her tea. That is irrelevant. If I was having a cup of tea with somebody and someone was sitting next to me, even I would offer that person a cup of tea. There is nothing wrong in that. I don't want to get deeper into it," said Engineer, who played 46 Tests for India from 1961 to 1975.
Anushka blasted Engineer for his "ill-intended lies". "The latest version of these ill-intended lies is that I was being served tea by selectors at matches during the World Cup! I came to one game during the World Cup and sat in the family box and not the selectors box as reported but when has the truth mattered when it's about convenience!" she said in a statement.
"If you want to have a comment on the selection committee and their qualifications please do so as it's your opinion but don't drag my name into it to substantiate your claim or sensationalise your opinion. I refuse to allow anyone from using my name in such conversations," wrote Anushka, who clarified she prefers coffee to tea.
Engineer clarified that his comments were not directed towards Anushka. "There is absolutely no disregard to Anushka because she is a lovely girl. She is like my daughter. And Virat is a fantastic cricketer and a great captain. I have the highest admiration for both of them. I would hate Anushka to get hurt because of this, because my comments were not directed to her at all.
"I am not saying that she was in the selectors' box or the BCCI box. I am not saying where she was. There is absolutely no disrespect meant for Anushka. I am a huge admirer of her. I have been completely misinterpreted," he said.
Anushka, in her statement, also addressed past controversies and chose to break her silence. "My name has been used in fabricated stories claiming that I am part of close-door team meetings and influenced selection processes.
Too much to bear
"My name has been wrongfully used to say how I have been given preferential treatment or how I have overstayed my authorised time with my husband on foreign tours which if anyone really cared about finding facts from the board, would know that I have always and always followed protocol but yet, I kept quiet.
"My name has been used for false stories to make it look like the board [BCCI] was being bothered for my tickets or security, etc when in reality I bought my own tickets for matches and flights and I still kept quiet.
"I was asked to stand in a group photo by the [UK] High Commissioner's wife despite my hesitation to be in it, and a huge issue was created over this blaming me for intentionally wanting to be part of it and the said event, even though I was invited for it. An official clarification was issued by the board on the same and I still kept quiet," she wrote.
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