The Original poster boy of Indian cricket
Farokh Engineer was known for his quick glovework and audacious batting
Farokh Engineer can be described as the actual swashbuckler of Indian cricket who set examples for other future dashers like K Srikkanth, Ganguly and Sehwag to follow. The wicket keeper-batsman was versatile and batted as an opener as well as a lower order pinch hitter during his career. His agility behind the stumps made him India’s first choice keeper in the late sixties and seventies and kept wickets for the famed spin quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. At the peak of his career, the colorful character was a respected for his mastery as a wicket keeper in the India as well overseas.
1. Born on:
Farokh Engineer was born to Minnie and Maneksha at Bombay Hospital on February 25, 1938, in Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra.
Farokh, which means happiness in Persian, grew up with his parents and had an older brother. His father was a Medical doctor by Profession while his mother was a housewife. He is of Parsi background and studied at the Podar College, Matunga.
3. Love for cricket:
Farokh’s love for sports came from his father who loved playing Tennis and was a club cricketer himself. His older brother, Darius, was also a good club cricketer and inspired the young Farokh to take up the sport.
4. Unique surname:
‘Engineer’ is an occupation-related surname. In the late nineteenth century, Farokh’s great-grandfather joined the newly built engineering industry. Hence, the last name ‘Engineer’ was adopted by his family.
5. The art of catching:
Farokh grew up studying in the Don Bosco School and was a mischievous kid. On one occasion, his mathematics teacher Mr. Lobo got annoyed at the kid who was talking with his classmate and threw the duster. To everyone’s surprise, Farokh caught the duster and this remains one of most discussed moments of his childhood.
6. Early cricketing career:
His father enrolled him to Dadar Parsi Colony Sporting Club where learnt the nuances of the game from the seniors and later became a regular member of the team.
7. Flying ambitions:
Farokh aspired to be a pilot and had passed his private pilot’s licence at Bombay Flying Club. But his mother did not want Farokh to be a pilot since she was afraid of losing her son. So Farokh, who had already taken giant strides from being a club cricketer to becoming a Test cricketer, began concentrating on his cricket.
8. Initial stardom:
Farokh routine was like every other young cricketer in Mumbai. He would attend college in the morning and then would take a train from Dadar to Churchgate and go to Cricket Club of India. He would often travel in crowded trains and would hang on the door with his kit hanging outside. However, everything changed after the Test selection as people recognised him, making way for him and gave place to sit in the train
9. A prized possession from Dennis Compton:
Farokh and his older brother were avid cricket lovers. Darius took Farokh on his shoulders at the East Stand of the Brabourne Stadium. Farokh saw Dennis Compton fielding there and started calling him. Compton was impressed by the little fellow and gave him a chewing gum to eat which he saved it as his prized possession for many years.
10. Doting Mother’s last words:
Farokh was the closest to his mother, Minnie and accompanied her everywhere. When Minnie was dying, Farokh was playing at Jamnagar. As soon as Farokh came to know about his mother’s deteriorating health, he rushed to Bombay. The Maharaja of Jamnagar had ordered the Indian Airlines flight to wait for him as Farokh rushed to his mother. Seeing his son weeping like a child, she promised Farokh that she will return to him as his first daughter. Those were Minnie’s last words. Farokh was sure that his first child would be a daughter and those words came true as his first child was a girl.
11. International debut:
Farokh made his Test debut during the 1961-62 season against England in Kanpur. He came out to bat at number 9 in a batting line-up which consisted of the likes of ML Jaisimha, Nari Contractor, Vijay Manjrekar and Salim Durani
12. Tames the famed West Indies to cement his place:
Farokh faced intense competition for the place of wicket keeper in the Indian team from another fine wicket keeper Budhi Kunderan. He struggled to cement his place until he struck a belligerent century against West Indies in Chennai in 1967. He batted audaciously against the bowling line-up consisting of Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, lance Gibbs and Gary Sobers.
13. Contribution India’s historic win:
In 1967-68, Engineer also played a pivotal role in India’s first ever Test series victory away from home in New Zealand. He showed good glovework behind the stumps and also chipped in with useful runs. In fact, he ended that series with more than 300 runs to his name.
14. The famous catch of the famous tour:
The 1971 tour is fondly remembered for India’s first Test series win against England in England. Farokh Engineer, who was the wicket keeper that series, also has his great moment in the series after he grabbed an acrobatic catch to dismiss John Edrich off Bishen Singh Bedi. A quicker one from Bedi hit the rough and jumped off to clip the shoulders of Edrich.
15. ‘The Brylcreem Boy’:
Farokh became a household name successful 1965/66 season after his performances against West Indies and New Zealand. There were a lot of commercials waiting to sign Farokh as their brand ambassador. He was offered a contract by Brylcreem. The sales of the cream went up and Engineer was known as the ‘Brylcreem Boy’. One of the UK tabloids also offered him handsome money to endorse for them. He had to be without his shirt on and carry his daughter Tina on his shoulders.
16. Best in the ‘Rest of the World’:
Farokh Engineer was the wicketkeeper for the “Rest of the World” team that played matches against England in 1970 and against Australia in 1971-72.
17. Lancashire man:
In 1967, Lancashire signed him up as an overseas player. He got used to the life in Manchester. He was provided with a house and a car to commute daily. Later, Engineer became a revered figure in Lancashire which had become his second home. His wife Julie is also a Lancastrian.
Farokh was announced as the Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year in 1965 and was awarded the fourth highest civilian award in India, Padma Shri in 1973.
By Veeran Rajendiran – Feb 25, 2016