Farokh Engineer: Harbhajan Singh’s remarks on R. Ashwin out of order

Farokh Enginner, the former India wicketkeeper, pillories Harbhajan Singh for his rants against R. Ashwin in a television show.

Farokh Engineer: “You don’t wash dirty linen in public.”   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Former India stumper Farokh Engineer has pilloried Harbhajan Singh for his rants against his successor R. Ashwin in a television channel.

Engineer, who said he comes to India under any excuse, was the chief guest at the Legends Club function at the C. K. Nayudu Hall, Cricket Club of India, to celebrate the 60th birthday of former India captain Kapil Dev.

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In the course of a free-wheeling chat with the Legends Club members and guests, Engineer all of a sudden paused and said: “Did you read Harbhajan’s comments about Ashwin; he was out of order there. What is first spinner and second spinner? Spinner is a spinner. Ashwin is a great bowler. It appeared to me he was critical of Ashwin. You don’t wash dirty linen in public, especially on an off-spinner who has replaced you, it’s like M. S. Dhoni criticising Rishabh Pant. It’s not cricket.”

Caustic remarks

Harbhajan, who had needed remedial measures to correct his action, and who has a dismal record in Australia (nine wickets at 73.22) and in England (14 wickets at 49.79), was quite caustic in his recent remarks about Ashwin, who took six wickets in India’s Adelaide Test win and did not play any part in the rest of the series because of an abdominal related injury.

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Harbhajan has taken 417 wickets at an average of 32.46 in 103 Tests and Ashwin has 342 at 25.44 from 65 Tests.

At another event on Wednesday, even Sachin Tendulkar had lavished praise on the fast bowlers and spinners.

Improvements needed

Engineer expressed happiness at India’s display in England and Australia, and felt Rishabh Pant should be part of India’s World Cup plans.

Harbhajan Singh (right) was caustic in his recent remarks about R. Ashwin (left). Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

 

He said, “I like his attitude and approach to batting. After his two centuries in England and Australia, he has to be there in the team for the World Cup. These are the questions for the selectors. But don’t praise him too high; encourage him. I don’t want to sound harsh; he’s technically so incorrect with keeping. Give him time. He will improve. He snatches the ball, gets up too early, does not move his feet; a good wicketkeeper moves his feet and does not dive all the time. There are no wicketkeeper-batsmen at all, all are batsmen-wicketkeepers.”

‘Fighting spirit’

Recalling the occasion when Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from a Test match in England, Engineer said: “How can I forget Pujara, dropped and picked in England. He’s stonewalled and tired the Australian bowlers and told them to get him out. It’s the combination of Virat [Kohli], who wears his heart on his sleeves, and Ravi [Shastri], that [has] resulted in the India win. Anil Kumble did no wrong, but I have lot of regard for Ravi. He’s a fighter and has infused the fighting spirit. Virat is so passionate, gives one hundred per cent. He has been criticised, but I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. When you play for the country, you need to be passionate, that’s how the boys did it. The pace bowlers bowled extremely well and Pujara anchored the batting and around him, they played well.”

‘Fantastic problem of selection’

Engineer also praised K.L. Rahul. “I saw Rahul score a magnificent hundred at The Oval and I rate him very highly. If a batsman looks good, persevere with him. Unfortunately, young [Prithvi] Shaw got hurt. India has got a fantastic problem of selection,” he said.