Farokh Engineer is a former Indian cricketer widely remembered as one of the greatest wicketkeepers India has ever produced. He was agile behind the stumps and was a good hard-hitting batter. He helped India to win many historic matches. The highlight of his career was the 109 runs against West Indies in January 1967.
Farokh Engineer was born on Friday, 25 February 1938 (age 83 years; as of 2021) in Bombay (now Mumbai), Bombay Presidency (now Maharashtra), British India. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. He attended Don Bosco High School, Matunga, Mumbai (Maharashtra). He then completed his higher studies at R. A. Podar College Of Commerce & Economics, Matunga, Mumbai (Maharashtra). He was an ardent sports lover since childhood which was instilled in him from his father who himself was a club cricketer and a Tennis player.
His elder brother was a club cricketer and was the one who encouraged Farokh to take up cricket as his sport. He always wanted to be a pilot since childhood. Since he had qualified for the private pilot license at Bombay Flying Club, so, it was obvious he would become a pilot in the future. But his mother wasn’t in favor of making his son a pilot as she was afraid of losing him. So, Farokh decided to go for cricket as his profession. Seeing this, his brother took him to Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai to watch a cricket match.
There he saw his favorite cricketer Denis Compton standing at the boundary. Farokh tried to call Compton. Compton responded immediately and threw chewing gum at him. Farokh kept that chewing gum as cherished possession in his room. His father then took him to a Dadar Parsi Colony Sporting Club where he learned the basics of cricket. He soon started playing for the side as a wicket-keeper batter. Right in the first match, he was effective behind the wickets with two leg-side stumpings. From thereon, he became a regular member of the side.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Brown
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Maneksha Engineer and he was a doctor. His mother’s name is Minnie Engineer and she was a homemaker. He had one elder sibling whose name is Darius Engineer.
Wife & Children
Farokh Engineer is married to Julie Engineer.
The couple is blessed with four daughters.
On 1 December 1961 against England at Green Park International Stadium, Kanpur
On 13 July 1974 against England at Yorkshire Cricket Ground, Leeds
Not Outs- 3
Highest Score- 121
One Day Internationals
Not Outs- 1
Highest Score- 54
Balls Faced- 195
Strike Rate- 58.46
One Day Internationals
He made his first-class debut in December 1958 against the touring West Indian side while representing Bombay University. In this match, he scored 0 and 29 runs in both innings respectively against the team which had the players like Wes Hall and Roy Gilchrist. One of his fierce competitors in domestic cricket was Budhi Kunderan. Coincidently, Kunderan was also a wicket-keeper batter. Both Engineer and Kunderan were crowd-pullers at that time. Farokh made his first international appearance in a home series against England in 1961. Lala Amarnath at that time was the Chairman of the Selectors. He chose Engineer over Kunderan mainly due to his agile keeping skills. During a net session before his debut match, he was hit on his right eye off the bowling of Raj Singh Dungarpur. This gave Kunderan a chance to make his international debut and Farokh was kept out of the squad.
Farokh then made his international debut in the second match where he scored useful 33 runs. As a result, he was included in the playing eleven for the remaining matches. His impressive keeping in his debut series fetched him a place for the tour of the West Indies where he could only play the first three matches due to injury. But in those three matches, he showed a fearless approach against their fierce fast bowling attack. In the home series against England in 1963, Engineer was included in the squad as the preferred wicket-keeper. However, due to his illness, he was dropped out and Kunderan was included in place of him. Kunderan scored brilliant 192 runs which enabled him to cement his place as the first-choice wicketkeeper. On the other hand, Engineer was ignored by the selectors. After almost three years, Engineer was included in the Indian side against the New Zealand team led by John Reid in 1965. This time, Engineer played at the top order and scored valuable runs for his side which led selectors to include him ahead of Kunderan as the first-choice opening batter.
His first major inning came against West Indies in 1967 at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai. Renowned writer John Cantrell described this inning as his ‘finest hours’ in his book named ‘Farokh Engineer: From the Far Pavilion’. The Print In that series, he was kept out from the first two matches which West Indies won. West Indies was star-studded with bowlers like Hall, Griffith, Gary Sobers, and Lance Gibbs. Engineer faced them without any fear and scored 94 runs before lunch. Post-lunch, he scored 109 runs and helped India to give visitors a target of 405 runs to win. However, the game ended in a draw and Engineer cemented his place on the national side for the next four years. He then played all the international matches in which India competed and also opened the inning. That was the time when the spinning quartet led by Bishan Singh Bedi was dominating the world cricket. He had done keeping against them which was the vital factor in his career. In June 1967, a tour of England took place where he was impressive with both bat and gloves and this helped him to acquire his place in the Lancashire county team. The Guardian In 1968, he was shifted to Lancashire where he was unable to play domestic cricket for India but was available to play for India which was not apprehended by the Indian national selectors. In the same year, he scored 300 runs at an average of 40.12 in a series against New Zealand which helped India to win their first-ever series in New Zealand. In 1970, a team for the ‘Rest of the World’ was announced where Engineer was selected as the wicketkeeper for a series against England and Australia in 1971-72.
The selectors who chose this team were the greats like Don Bradman, Sir Frank Worrell, and Sir Len Hutton. During the tour of the West Indies in 1971, Vijay Merchant; a renowned cricketer and also a member of the Indian selectors decided not to include Engineer in the team as he has not played any domestic game for India. However, he was included in the side for the tour of England in April 1971. But Engineer told selectors that he would only be available for the test series and not the rest of the tour matches due to his commitment to Lancashire. In this series, he scored valuable runs in two innings in the third test at Oval. This time, Engineer batted in the middle order. In that match, he also took a scintillating diving catch to dismiss their batter John Edrich off the bowling of Bishan Singh Bedi. In an interview, he recalled that catch by saying that,
“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.”
That was the first win by India against England in their home condition where Engineer’s 59 runs in the first inning proved significant. His tour ended with 172 runs at an average of 43.
In the next home series against England where India beat England 2-1, Engineer was the highest run-scorer for India.
He scored his highest test score of 121 runs against England in February 1973 in Mumbai which ended in a draw. During the tour of England in 1974, he played a fighting inning in the second and third test which India lost. He also played county cricket for Lancashire from 1968 to 1976. After making his county debut, Lancashire hasn’t won any major tournament. After his performance against England in 1967, many county teams wanted to sign Engineer, but Engineer decided to go for Lancashire due to its beautiful grounds and great history. Under his tenure, Lancashire predominated Gillette Cup four times and John Player League twice.
Post retiring, he stayed in Lancashire and served as its vice-president. He had a house in Timperley in the Suburb of South Manchester. His attachment to Manchester was such that it became his second home. Crictracker.com
“Indian selectors were busy in serving tea to Anushka Sharma during the tournament.”
Anushka Sharma expressed her disapproval and termed the comment as ‘baseless’. Later, Engineer apologized to Anushka and said in an interview with a TV Channel that,
“I just said it in a jest and it’s being made a mountain out of a molehill.”
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Indian Cricketer of the Year in 1965
- Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1973
- Award for Outstanding contribution to Indian cricket in 2013 by the BCCI
- Ceat Lifetime Achievement award in 2018
- Cricketer(s): Denis Compton, Gary Sobers, Jack Bond
- Sportsperson: Muhammad Ali
- Engineer and famous Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor were classmates. While, during a class, he was seen talking to Shashi Kapoor. The teacher named Mr. Lobo saw this and threw a duster at him and to everyone’s surprise, he caught the duster. Business Line
- His daily routine started while attending his college in the morning. After finishing college by afternoon, he boards a train from Dadar to Churchgate to reach the Cricket Club of India (CCI) for routine cricket practice. As the train was heavily crowded so he would travel while hanging on the doors.
- After becoming successful in international cricket, many commercial brands wanted to endorse him as their brand ambassador. Soon, he became the brand ambassador of Brylcream in 1965. In an interview, he revealed,
“The product was very popular in India at one stage but sales had dipped so low that Beecham’s, the manufacturers, needed a sports personality or someone flamboyant to endorse the product.”
Other UK tabloids also wanted to endorse him and also offered him handsome money to do their commercials. In that commercial, he needs to stand without a shirt and carry his daughter on his shoulder.
- The famous commentator at that time, John Arlott said about Farokh Engineer that, Maxbooks
“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.”
- Noted 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.”
- He was a fan favorite in Lancashire. Once a cop stopped him for overspeeding in the streets of Manchester but he let him off by saying ScoopWhoop
“My father would kill me if I booked you.”
- A Bollywood movie named ’83’ was released on 24 December 2021 that embarks India’s journey towards winning the 1983 Cricket World Cup. In this movie, Boman Irani is playing the role of Farokh Engineer.
- Farokh Engineer’s surname came from his grandfather who used to work in a newly built engineering industry in the late nineteenth century. Crictracker.com
- Farokh was very attached to his mother. When his mother was on the last stage, Farokh was playing in Jamnagar. As soon as he heard the news of his mother’s ailing health, he immediately rushed towards Mumbai in his home where his mother was lying on the bed. Mother promised Engineer that she will come as his first daughter. Coincidentally, Engineer’s first child was a daughter so he named her on the name of his mother Minnie.
- Once Australian Geoff Boycott said to Engineer,
“You have more talent than me, but because of my temperament, I have made more runs.”
To which, Engineer replied,
“But which of us two do people come to watch?”
- Apart from his playing days, he has also worked for Mercedes-Benz in sales and marketing. Also, he was the brand ambassador for Jaguar and Lyca Mobile.
- After retiring from international cricket, he became a cricket commentator for BBC. He mostly covered the BBC Test Match Specials. For the 1983 Cricket World Cup finals where India was facing West Indies, Engineer was appointed the commentator. Once his fellow commentator asked him if Indira Gandhi will declare a holiday if India wins the World Cup? To which, Engineer replied that he has no doubt, she would as she is an ardent cricket fan and a TMS listener. After those words, a message was sent from Indira Gandhi’s office to the commentary team that she has heard his commentary and indeed has declared a holiday. After meeting Indira Gandhi after a few months, Indira Gandhi said, Cricket Country
“Thanks for reminding me about the declaration of the public holiday. That will fetch me extra votes in the next election!”