Engineer bats for transparency

Cricket BCCI awards

Engineer bats for transparency

It was only befitting that a lecture in the memory of the charismatic and inspiring cricketer was delivered by another dashing player of the same era.

Blending delightful events of the past with relevant aspects of modern day cricket, former India wicketkeeper-batsman Farokh Engineer delivered the fifth MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture at the BCCI annual awards function here on Wednesday.

On an evening when the past masters of the game, the current lot of the Indian cricket team and the future prospects were present under the same roof, Engineer enthralled the audience with his short but interesting talk.

Known for his flamboyancy and sharpness on the field, Farokh called for transparency in Indian cricket administration.

“I would like to tell Vinod Rai, Ramachandra Guha and fellow members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) that you have got your job cut out in the next few months. I would like to suggest about having an elite cricket board comprising of greats such as Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and many others who are transparent. We need people who have no axe to grind, have total integrity and are completely impartial,” he said.

With so much debate on the nature of pitches in Test cricket today, Engineer offered a solution that is being implemented in county cricket in England.

“Someone has suggested neutral pitches. I instead suggest that the visiting captain should decide whether to bat or field first,” he said.

Sharing some of his nostalgic moments with one of the greatest captains of Indian cricket, Engineer said Pataudi was a great ambassador of the game. “He brought a breath of fresh air to the game and he was very influential,” said Engineer.

Playing with one eye, Pataudi’s skills were awe inspiring, felt Engineer. “All the players in the Indian team once tried to put a patch on one of their eyes and take catches and it was a disastrous experience. It showed Pataudi’s calibre,” recollected Engineer.

Revealing a few of the memorable off the field incidents, Engineer called Pataudi a practical joker. “In St Kitt's and Nevis, myself and Pataudi made phone calls to our team-mates in a disguised voice and told them that a hurricane might hit the hotel anytime. All the players immediately ran to the reception area only to know it was a prank.”

Patuadi’s wife, yesteryear Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore, presented Engineer with a memento.

“My desire to win games for my team was the secret behind my longevity,” said former Indian first-class cricket Padmakar Shivalkar, who along with Rajinder Goel won the Col CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award. The left-arm spinners bagged more than 1300 first-class cricket between them. Shanta Rangaswamy won the Lifetime Achievement award for women.  

Stalwarts EAS Prasanna, Ajit Wadekar, GR Viswanath, Bishan Singh Bedi and Anil Kumble gave away the awards.  

Breakthrough year

Receiving the Polly Umrigar award, Kohli called it a breakthrough year for him. “The last 12 months have been unbelievable and it has been a breakthrough year for me. I wanted to be the best player and for that I knew I had to perform well in all formats. Captaincy as a great opportunity to set an example for my team-mates and help India win,” said Kohli.

Ravichandran Ashwin, who won the Dilip Sardesai award (India’s best cricketer in the West Indies series, 2016) said: "It all started with the West Indies series and I am glad how the season has culminated.”

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