Enlist former players, Engineer urges CoA

Farokh Engineer, who delivered the fifth MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, suggested “having an elite cricket board”, involving some of India’s greatest players. Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin won the Polly Umrigar award and the Dilip Sardesai award respectively, in the awards function.

Padmakar Shivalkar (left), Shantha Rangaswamy (centre) and Rajinder Goel, winners of the lifetime achievement awards, at the annual BCCI Awards function, in Bengaluru.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Farokh Engineer has urged the Committee of Administrators in charge of the BCCI to enlist the help of prominent former Indian cricketers. Engineer, who delivered the fifth MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture here on Wednesday, suggested “having an elite cricket board”, involving some of India’s greatest players.

“You have the likes of (Ravi) Shastri, (Anil) Kumble, (V.V.S.) Laxman, (Javagal) Srinath, Sachin (Tendulkar), (Dilip) Vengsarkar, (Sunil) Gavaskar, many to choose from,” Engineer said. “[They are] people who are completely transparent, who have no axe to grind, have total integrity, completely impartial. They are around.”

Addressing the CoA, the 79-year-old said: “Vinod Rai, Ramachandra Guha and fellow administrators; you’ve certainly got your job cut out in the next four months, sir. We wish you luck. We not only want but demand nothing but the best for Indian cricket.”

Engineer offered his take on the problem of doctored pitches. “Someone has proposed neutral curators. I suggest the visiting captain decides whether to bat or field,” he said. Engineer, who was introduced to the gathering by Shastri as ‘the original pin-up boy of Indian cricket’, delivered a humorous, at times irreverent address, laced with a number of anecdotes involving Pataudi. “I used to get Rs. 50 per day as fees for a Test match; do you hear that Virat?” he asked.

“I’m a Parsi, after all.”

The former India wicketkeeper also spoke of once mistaking Asha Bhonsle for her sister, Lata Mangeshkar. “I’m a Parsi after all,” he quipped, to much chuckling. Engineer presented the BCCI’s Polly Umrigar award, for International Cricketer of the Year, to Virat Kohli. “The last 10-12 months were quite unbelievable,” Kohli said. “I would say late 2015 to the end of 2016 has been the breakthrough year for me.”

R. Ashwin, who won the Dilip Sardesai Award for his performances in the West Indies, spoke of a ‘charter’ the team had prepared “in this very hotel” before leaving for the Caribbean. The lecture and the BCCI’s annual awards function, held at a city hotel here, also saw Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel win the Col. C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award.

Shantha Rangaswamy, who was presented the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award for women, delivered an emotional speech on the struggles of the pioneering women cricketers of her generation. Ajinkya Rahane collected the ‘best performance in domestic tournaments’ award on behalf of the Mumbai Cricket Association.

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