Early Life of Farokh Engineer
He was born on 25th February 1938 at Mumbai in Maharashtra and he started playing the game of Cricket in a very young age. His parents named him ‘Farokh’ which means joy or brightness in Persian. Farokh was a Parsi and there is an interesting history of the Parsis appending their profession as their last name. You hear the surnames Batliwalla, Daruwalla, which are occupation-related surnames. ‘Engineer’ too 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.
During his formative years, three people influenced Farokh’s life - his father (Maneksha), mother (Minnie) and older brother (Darius). His father was a medical doctor - Dr. Engineer (a paradox which made young Farokh laugh). According to Farokh, his father saved many peoples’ lives thanks to his medical knowledge. Maneksha was an intelligent man who loved playing tennis and was a club cricketer himself.
Darius was Farokh’s elder brother. Darius was a very good cricketer and he inspired Farokh to be a cricketer too. The two brothers were avid cricket watchers themselves. On one occasion, 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. Farokh saved it as his prized possession for many years.
He started playing for the National Team of India in the year of 1961-62 when he played in the second Test against England at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur. In his debut Test, he scored 33 runs in the only innings that he played. Though he started playing as a wicket-keeper, he became a very much recognized Batsman by the end of his career. He was really a very much entertaining and hard-hitting Batsman of his time. Though he has scored only two centuries in his entire career he was a very useful Batsman for his team whenever his team needed him. He scored one of those two centuries against the most powerful team of the time West Indies when he scored a wonderful knock of 121. In fact, he was a great entertainer by nature and he was very much competitive as well. Because of this very characteristic only, he has played some really hard-hitting knocks against some of the greatest fast bowlers of that time.
Domestic and International Cricket of Farokh Engineer
Farokh made his first class debut for Combined Universities against the touring West Indies side courtesy of some fine performances while playing for Bombay University. The West Indies side was like a Goliath. They plundered the Combined University side mainly because of two fiery pace bowlers - Wes Hall and Roy Gilchrist. They injured three batsmen too. Engineer scored 0 and 29 in that game. According to Farokh, getting 29 was like getting a hundred in that game.
Farokh’s next aim was getting into the Bombay team. In those days, it was difficult to be part of the Bombay team because they were the powerhouse of the domestic cricket and most of the star-players were Test cricketers themselves. Bombay had Naren Tamhane as their wicket keeper and he was a regular keeper for India as well. But soon, Budhi Kunderan took his place. Also, Tamhane was not a flamboyant keeper. Farokh used to dive and was more agile compared to Tamhane. Farokh’s batting also gave him an edge over Tamhane. So, Farokh Engineer finally became a regular member of the Bombay team.
Farokh Engineer played 46 Tests and only five One-Day International matches. He played his first One-Day International match against England in the Prudential Trophy held at Leeds in the year of 1974. In the 1975 World Cup, he scored a total of 114 runs in five matches at an average of 38. He played his last Test match against the West Indies in 1974-75 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai where he failed to score even a single run. He played his last One-Day International match against New Zealand at Manchester. Though he was short and bulky in his body shape, he was amazingly very lively behind the stumps. His liveliness always kept the close-in fielders very alert and on their toes. However, his running between the wickets was a bit inconsistent, but in keeping with the rest of him, he was entertaining as ever.
Comeback by Farokh Engineer
Engineer made a comeback in the Indian team against New Zealand in 1965 at Corporation Stadium, Madras. He scored 90 in that game, batting at No. 9. Engineer had a string of low scores in the four innings that followed.
The high point in the Test career came when West Indies visited India in 1966. The visitors were fresh from 2-1 victory over Australia and 3-1 series win against England. Out of the 10 games India had played against West Indies, they had lost eight and drawn two. Kunderan played the first two Test matches. Then he was dropped. Farokh replaced Kunderan in the third Test at Chepauk, Madras. Engineer never got a settled batting number. He had batted at nine, eight, three and even seven. At Chepauk, he was batting at No.2. Engineer attacked the West Indies bowling straight away. By lunch on day 1, India had scored 125 runs without losing any wicket. Engineer was batting on 94. When the second session started, Engineer brought up his first hundred with a six. Engineer was out on 109 but he had laid a solid foundation. Chandu Borde too scored a ton in that innings and India scored 404 in their first innings. India had set the target of 322 for West Indies. They lost seven wickets for 193 runs. India had almost won their first Test match against the mighty West Indies.
Last Match of Farokh Engineer
Engineer’s last Test series was at home against West Indies. Engineer was out in an unlucky fashion in the first innings of the first Test. When Farokh on-drove Andy Roberts, Viv Richards standing at short mid-on took evasive action and turned around. The ball was lodged in between Richards’ legs. In the second innings, Farokh was hit above the eye while keeping wickets.
India lost the second Test at Delhi, although Engineer scored 17 and 75 in that Test. India then won the next two Tests at Calcutta and Madras. Engineer played his last Test match at the newly laid Wankhede Stadium. It was a horror end to his career. Engineer recorded his first pair in Test matches and West Indies won the match by 201 runs. Farokh felt his time was up in Tests. The Bombay match, his 46th of his career, was his final Test match.
Personal Life of Farokh Engineer
Farokh named his first daughter Minnie (after his mother). Tina, Roxanne and Scarlett are his other three daughters. Cricket Statistics
Batting and Fielding Averages