Biography

Farokh Engineer Height, Age, Wife, Children, Family, Biography & More » StarsUnfolded

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Religion: Zoroastrianism

Profession: Cricketer (Wicket-keeper)

Age: 83 Years

Farokh Engineer

Farokh Engineer

Some Lesser Known Facts About Farokh Engineer

  • Farokh Engineer is a former international wicketkeeper batter who played for India in the 1960s and 70s. He was a flamboyant player widely recognized as being agile behind the stumps and helped India to win many historic matches.
    Farokh Engineer

    Farokh Engineer

  • Farokh loved sports mainly due to his family where his father was a club cricketer and also a tennis player. His brother was a club cricketer and was the one who inspired Farokh to take up cricket as his sport.
    Farokh Engineer childhood photo

    Farokh Engineer childhood photo

  • Since childhood, he wanted to be a pilot. In fact, he had qualified for the private pilot license at Bombay Flying Club. However, his mother doesn’t want Farokh to be a pilot as she was afraid of losing her child. So, Farokh started concentrating on cricket.
    Farokh Engineer younger days photo

    Farokh Engineer younger days photo

  • Once during a class, he was seen talking to his classmate and famous Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor. The teacher named Mr. Lobo then threw a duster at him and to everyone’s surprise, he caught the duster. This is the most discussed moment of his childhood.
  • His brother then took him to the East stand of the Brabourne Stadium (Mumbai) where he saw his favorite cricketer Denis Compton standing at the boundary. Farokh called Compton. Compton gave an instant reply and threw chewing gum at him. Farokh kept that chewing gum as a prized possession for many years. His father then enrolled him in the Dadar Parsi Colony Sporting Club where he learned the basics of cricket.
  • He started playing for the Dadar Parsi Colony team. In the first match, he played, he was involved in two leg-side stumpings. From thereon, he became a regular member of the side.
    Farokh Engineer wicketkeeper

    Farokh Engineer wicketkeeper

  • Talking about his daily routine, he would attend his college in the morning, and by the afternoon, he went to the Cricket Club of India (CCI) by taking a train from Dadar to Churchgate. The train was heavily crowded and he would travel while hanging on the doors. After becoming a test cricketer, people started recognizing him and started offering him a seat whenever he board the train.
  • He played his debut first-class game in December 1958, for the Combined Universities side against the touring West Indies. He was representing Bombay University at that time. The Caribbeans star-studded with players like Wes Hall and Roy Gilchrist was all over the Combined Universities team. Farokh then scored 0 and 29 in that game.
  • Farokh Engineer got stiff competition from Budhi Kunderan in domestic cricket. Both Kunderan and Engineer were crowd pullers.
  • Farokh made his international cricket debut in December 1960 against tough England’s side which was led by Ted Dexter. Then Chairman of Selectors Lala Amarnath prioritized Engineer over Kunderan mainly due to his sharp keeping skills. As Farokh was about to make his international debut, during a net session, he was hit on his right eye off the bowling of Raj Singh Dungarpur to which, Kunderan was given a chance to play his debut game against England and Farokh was left out of the squad.
    Farokh Engineer batting

    Farokh Engineer batting

  • In the second test at Kanpur, Farokh was declared fit. He played his first test match where he scored valuable 33 runs. As a result, he was included in the playing eleven for the remaining matches.
  • In the next tour of the West Indies, Farokh was included as the frontline wicketkeeper. He played his first three matches before injury forced him to stay out of the series for the remaining games. In the three matches he played, he showed a brave approach against the lights of Caribbean pacers Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith.
  • In 1963, England toured India where Engineer was again placed as the first-choice wicketkeeper. However, his illness forced selectors to drop him and include Kunderan in place of him. Kunderan scored brilliant 192 runs, as a result, he cemented his spot as the first-hand wicketkeeper. On the other hand, Engineer was getting neglected by the selectors.
  •  In 1965, after a long time Engineer was given a chance to play for the national side against the New Zealand team led by John Reid. This time, Engineer opened the inning and scored brilliant runs for his side. This led Selectors to put him as the full-fledged opening batter.
    Farokh Engineer hitting a shot

    Farokh Engineer hitting a shot

  • Engineer’s best inning came against the touring West Indian side in 1967 at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai. Famous writer John Cantrell described this inning as his ‘finest hours’ in his book named ‘Farokh Engineer: From the Far Pavilion’. He did not play in the first two matches which the visitors won. In the third test, comprising of their star pace bowling duo of Hall and Griffith which were equally supported by Gary Sobers and Lance Gibbs, Engineer faced them fearlessly and scored 94 runs before lunch. After lunch, he scored 109 runs which helped India to reach a total of 404 runs. Ultimately, the match ended in a draw. This inning helped him to cement his place on the Indian side for the next four years.
  • During the period from 1967 to 1970, Engineer was included in the Indian team in all the matches which, India has played. At that time, he opened the inning in almost all the matches except during a short test series against the New Zealand side in 1969. It was the period when the spinning quartet led by Bishan Singh Bedi was making an impact in international cricket. Engineer’s presence behind the stumps was a vital factor.
  • In the same year, he played a major role in India’s first-ever victory in New Zealand where he scored 300 runs at an average of 40.12 in the four-match series.
  • In 1970, he was selected as the wicketkeeper for the ‘Rest of the World’ team for a series against England and against Australia in 1971-72. The selectors who selected the team were Don Bradman, Sir Len Hutton, and Sir Frank Worrell.
    Rest of the World XI in 1970

    Rest of the World XI in 1970. Farokh; 3rd from right standing

  • During the tour of the West Indies in 1971, Vijay Merchant then a member of the Indian selectors decided not to include Engineer in the side as he has not played any domestic game for India.
  • Soon, during the tour of England in April 1971, Engineer was made available in the team. But Engineer informed the selectors that he would only be playing test series and not be available for the rest of the tour because of his commitment to Lancashire. In this series, he played two valuable knocks in the third Test at the Oval. This time, Engineer was batting in the middle order. He also took a diving catch to dismiss John Edrich off the bowling of Bishan Singh Bedi. About that catch, he revealed,

    “It was the last ball of the day. It pitched in the rough, took off, clipped the shoulder of Edrich’s bat, and hit me on my left shoulder. The ground was wet because of rain, and I was sprawled on the ground when the ball came down. I just managed to flick it up with my left foot, but there was no fielder in catching position and it was impossible for me to take the catch. I kicked it up again, regained my balance somewhat, and finally managed to take the catch with a leap.”

    Also, his 59 runs in the first inning during India’s first test win in England was the team’s highest in the match. He ended his tour with a total of 172 runs in the series at an average of 43.00.

    Farokh Engineer playing a shot at Oval in 1971

    Farokh Engineer playing a shot at Oval in 1971

  • He was the highest run-scorer for India during the 1972-73 home Test series when India beat England 2-1.
    Farokh Engineer with the bat which he got after being the top scorer in 1972-73 against England

    Farokh Engineer with the bat which he got after being the top scorer in 1972-73 against England

  • His career-best test score of 121 runs came against England at Mumbai where he was asked to bat at the top of the order yet again. During the tour of England in 1974, he put up a strong fight in the second and third Test which India lost.
  • When West Indies toured India in 1974-75, Engineer was told to captain the side as the regular captain Pataudi was ruled out and vice-captain Sunil Gavaskar was suffering a fracture on his right thumb. However, due to some reason, Engineer could not captain the side, and one of the members of the spin quartet S. Venkataraghavan was sent in for the toss the next day. Engineer remained calm and focused on his game instead. He contributed handsomely with the bat and helped India to win the first match by 85 runs. Remembering that time, in an interview, he told,

    “Clive Lloyd was the West Indies captain and we had our blazers on to go out and toss. And suddenly there was a phone call from the board president, who was so politically in demand that he had the chairman of selectors in his pocket. Suddenly, Venkataraghavan comes in with a letter from the board president that he’s replacing Prasanna in the team, who had just taken five wickets, and he’s to captain the team. Nobody could believe the scenario.”

  • However, he has captained India in an unofficial test match against MCC in the 1972-73 series. MCC was chasing a target close to 200 and was well poised on 100 for 4 at the end of day four. Team captain Ajit Wadekar got ill on the last day and Engineer was told to lead the side. Engineer set the aggressive field and lead India to win that match.
  • In the next test at Chennai, Engineer showed his acrobatic skills behind the stumps with his brilliant catch to dismiss Vivian Richards. He was also involved in the lightning stumping to remove Clive Lloyd. Unfortunately, he couldn’t perform with the bat which turned out to be his final test series.
  • John Arlott, one of the renowned commentators at that time said about Farokh Engineer that,

    “He finds both cricket and life fun; he laughs easily and his jokes are often very funny but he can be grave. His appeals are as loud as anyone’s yet off the field he is quietly spoken. As a batsman or wicketkeeper, he is aggressive, yet he is a man of consideration and courtesy. There has always been a quality of generosity about his cricket and his way of life.”

  • Another cricket writer, Colin Evans wrote in his book named ‘ Farokh, The Cricketing Cavalier’ that,

    “I watched many of his performances for Lancashire from 1968 to 1976 and he had the ability to lighten up the gloomiest Manchester day, whether on the pitch or off it. Nowadays, 40 years after his retirement from the game, he is still warmly welcomed all over the world as an ambassador for cricket.”

  • In County cricket, he represented Lancashire from 1968 to 1976. When he made his county debut, Lancashire hasn’t won any major tournament since 1950. After his successful outing against England in 1967, famous commentator John Arlott wanted Engineer to play for Hampshire. At the same time, Worcestershire and Somerset too wanted to sign Engineer in his team but Engineer went for Lancashire due to its beautiful grounds and great history. Under his tenure, Lancashire won the Gillette Cup four times and John Player League twice.
    Farokh Engineer appealing in Gillette Cup Final in 1975

    Farokh Engineer appealing in Gillette Cup Final in 1975

    Farokh Engineer holding the Gillette Cup

    Farokh Engineer (right) holding the Gillette Cup

  • After retiring, he decided to stay back in Lancashire and serve as its vice-president. He was provided with all the facilities like a house and car to commute daily. His house was located in Timperley in the Suburb of South Manchester. His attachment to Manchester was such that Manchester became his second home.
  • He was the fan favorite there. This can be estimated from the fact that once a cop stopped him for speeding on the roads of Manchester but he let him off by saying that,

    “My father would kill me if I booked you.”

  • A Bollywood movie named ’83’ was released on 24 December 2021 where Boman Irani has portrayed the role of Farokh Engineer.
    Farokh Engineer with Boman Irani

    Farokh Engineer with Boman Irani

  • His surname ‘Engineer’ which is an occupation-related surname came from his grandfather when he joined the newly built engineering industry in the late nineteenth century.
  • Farokh was closest to his mother. When his mother was dying, Engineer was playing at Jamnagar. As soon as, he received the news of his mother’s deteriorating health, he rushed to Bombay. His mother was on the bed and promised Engineer that she will come back as his first daughter. Those last words from his mother came true when Engineer’s first child was a daughter. So, he named her on the name of his mother Minie.
  • He became a commentator after retiring from international cricket and mostly covered matches for BBC Test Match Special. Once he was doing commentary in the 1983 World Cup final between India and West Indies when his fellow commentator asked him that if India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would declare a holiday if India wins the World Cup. To which, Engineer replied, he had no doubt she would since she was an avid TMS listener. After those words, a message was relayed to the commentary team from Prime Minister’s Office that she had heard their commentary and had indeed declared a holiday. When Engineer met Indira Gandhi after a few months, Indira said,

    “Thanks for reminding me about the declaration of the public holiday. That will fetch me extra votes in the next election!”

    Farokh Engineer giving autograph to fans

    Farokh Engineer giving autographs to his fans

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