Farokh Engineer: Still Firmly On The Front foot

One may quit cricket, but apparently it cannot be the other way round. This was was well illustrated by Farokh Engineer, a trained pilot, who chose cricket as a career, to represent India in 46 Test matches spanning over 15 years during 1961-1975.

By V Rishi Kumar | The Hindu Business Online

imageNow 78, Engineer is all grace and poise as he was on the grounds during his cricketing career, representing India and the English county team Lancashire.

During his visit to Hyderabad, as a brand ambassador for Zaiwalla & Co, London-based solicitors, he shared some interesting anecdotes and how an invaluable piece of advice from his ‘Godfather’ JRD Tata, former Chairman of the Tata Group, changed his life forever.

He says, “I took to cricket like most kids in Dadar-Mumbai those days and began loving the game playing for the school team, college/universities, representing the Ranji team, our country and then the English county team Lancashire. Even though I was a trained pilot having been inspired by an ex-Air Chief cousin, I took to cricket with all passion.”

“While working with the Tata Group entities, when I was in a dilemma whether to take up an assignment as a professional cricketer for Lancashire, JRD Tata, who was my mentor, suggested that I take up the assignment, pursue further studies, earn money, get better degree, and come back to India to work at a higher level in one of the Tata entities. This piece of advice changed my life,” he said.

Saving Shashi Kapoor

Referring to his schooling days at Don Bosco, where actor Shashi Kapoor was a classmate, he said that a French teacher would throw dusters at students whom he spotted chatting during class sessions.

“In one such incident, when he flung the duster, it would have landed on Shashi Kapoor’s face, but for the catch I took. If not for that catch, Shashi Kapoor would have played the role of a villain with a scar instead of a hero,” says Engineer with a smile.

Taking a dig at the great English cricketer and commentator Geoff Boycott for his “dour and boring cricket,” he said, “I was exactly opposite slam bang always forcing the pace. Thankfully, all my life, I played for Lancashire and India, he played for Yorkshire and England, many times playing against each other.”

Mentioning about his contest with the likes of West Indian fast bowlers Charlie Griffith and Roy Gilchrist without helmet, he said it was fascinating as this was special.

Narrating an incident, where the match between India and Sri Lanka was getting over in four days, he said most of the team-mates were upset as they would lose the fifth day’s packet of ₹50. Those were the days when we used to get ₹50 a day, as against probably a few lakhs or a million bucks in the case of some cricketers today.

Parsis have interesting names, he said and for his father who was Doctor and worked with the Tata group for over five decades, it was a tough time, as patients and people would call him Doctor Engineer.