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The Rediff Special/Deepti Patwardhan
'I was the Adam Gilchrist of the 60s'
June 03, 2005
A rotund 67-year-old is rarely an advertiser's choice of a model.
But there he was again, Indian cricket's original 'poster boy' launching a beer brand.
His girth may mislead, but the charisma was all there.
"I was the pioneer in advertising as far as Indian cricket goes," said Farokh Engineer during his recent commercial visit to Mumbai.
"I started with Brylcreem. It was Sunil Gavaskar, who took over from there and now you see all the cricketers modeling."
Engineer, who was one of the most flamboyant batsmen of his time, said there is only one way of playing cricket: attack.
"I was the Adam Gilchrist of the 1960s," proclaimed Engineer. "My game was very similar to him; I only wish there was more one-day cricket during my age.
"Not everyone has the confidence or the eyesight to go after the bowling. But my instinct was to attack. Since I was the wicketkeeper my eye was better trained to pick up the ball. All I would be thinking was where to hit the ball for a boundary. I loved to hit over the bowler's head."
Engineer though agreed that today's generation, with a lot more at stake, is sometimes restrained by coaching book techniques.
"We were lucky that there wasn't too much coaching around. We used to play beach cricket and gully cricket and take the same game to the international level. I always played for the enjoyment of the game and my average at the end of it wasn't very bad."
Engineer, who played 46 Tests and five One-Day Internationals for India, said every team is now looking for all-rounders and it is imperative that 'keepers have to be handy with the willow too.
"Batting is an added dimension," he said, adding that converting Rahul Dravid into a wicketkeeper wasn't a very good idea.
"It was clear that he was not enjoying the job. Wicketkeeping is tough and you have to enjoy it to do well. Plus, he is one of India's best batsmen and it was too much of a risk to make him 'keep."
Of the current crop, he said all the three `keepers -- Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni -- had shown good enterprise.
"They have shown they have the heart for competition, but the selectors need to persist with one of them. Pick them for a long run and give them confidence. Dhoni is definitely a very good prospect for the one-dayers. He is an attacking batsman and has a sound technique behind the wicket."
Engineer played for India from 1961 to 1975 and later settled in his English county, Lancashire. He has been with them for almost 20 years and is currently its vice-president. He is hopeful of being elected as president at the elections later this year and becoming the first Indian to take up the post in any English county.
PHOTOGRAPH: Jewella Miranda