Extract from Farokh-The Cricketing Cavalier

John Arlott, one of cricket's most revered commentators said of Farokh Engineer: "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."

In a new authorised biography 'Farokh, The Cricketing Cavalier' Colin Evans, former cricket writer for the Manchester Evening News, looks back at Engineer's career, recalling many magical moments with Lancashire and India though the 1960s and 1970s.

"John Arlott summed up Farokh so well," says Evans. "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."

The following excerpt from Evans' book goes back to Lancashire's reign as Kings of One Day Cricket when they won the Gillette Cup four times and the John Player League twice, the second Sunday triumph coming on a memorable August afternoon in 1970 when Evans, then a novice in the Old Trafford Press Box, saw Jack Bond's side beat Yorkshire.

'August Bank Holiday weekend 1970. Over half a million rock fans 'hippies and druggies' according to some newspapers have flooded over to a small island off the south coast of England for the biggest 'gig' of all time, the third Isle of Wight Festival. Among the line-up, Leonard Cohen, The Who, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix.

In the Press Box at the Old Trafford cricket ground is a small amiable group of cricket writers whose musical tastes are more inclined to Beethoven or Ella Fitzgerald. Over to our left, in the dressing-rooms Lancashire and Yorkshire players are getting ready for the first session of the Roses match. The radio is on with Elvis Presley crooning the current number one hit 'The Wonder of You'. David Lloyd is trying to persuade Farokh Engineer to do an impersonation of his lookalike Engelbert Humperdink.

The crowd is building up nicely. Mostly the traditional type of supporter. Jackets, some blazers even, and ties and Daily Telegraphs in the Members' stand. Strolling onto the other terraces are mature blokes in short-sleeved shirts and flannels, some with copies of The Sun tucked into their back pockets. A small pod of younger fans, long hair, jeans and T shirts saunter over the practice field which is used as a car park on match days.

One of my Press colleagues nudges my shoulder, points to them saying: "There's your mates. Shouldn't you be with them? Or in the Isle of Wight?" One or two titter. But much as I love The Who etc the Isle of Wight Festival is small beer compared to the 'gig' I am about to enjoy that weekend. First, two and a quarter hours of Roses cricket starring Farokh Engineer and Clive Lloyd, then a fish and chips lunch, then a quick scoot up Warwick Road for a football fiesta involving some of the world's top players — Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best, Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves, Geoff Hurst — as United take on West Ham in the first division, then a sprint back to the cricket for the last few overs. And, next day, Lancashire's Sunday League finale when they meet Yorkshire in a bid to win the John Player title for the second time. For a young long-haired 'hippy' sports writer what could be better?

Barry Wood, on his way to another century against his native county, and Harry Pilling dominate the cricket morning and at two o'clock, stuffed with chips, I flash my pass at the football ground's 'Staff Door' and make my way up to the Press Box where one of the gnarled newspaper veterans points to the Stretford End and jokes: "There's your mates, shouldn't you be with them?" More chuckles. It is a 1-1 draw and I tear back to the cricket ground to find Lancashire in command thanks to Wood's 144, half-centuries from Pilling and Clive Lloyd and an unbeaten 82 from our new golden boy Frank Hayes. (Hayes was also tagged England's new 'White Hope').

By 7pm the ground has more or less cleared but the railway station is still busy with hundreds of happy but comparatively peaceful Lancashire supporters and some noisy remnants of the football crowd chanting 'United, United'. Engineer, who has had a few minutes of batting with Hayes before the close of play, comes out of the pavilion and offers me a lift home. He lives in Timperley. I live a further eight miles along the road. I say: "Thanks but I'm getting the train."

"No, no. I'll take you home," he insists. Typical of the man. (In more recent times he has offered to give me various lifts, one of which was to a hotel 100 yards away. If I asked him to take me to India, via Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan I am sure he would say: "Hop in.") Eventually we part and I say: "Big day tomorrow."
"Sure," he smiles. "Looking forward to it."

It turned out to be one of the biggest days in Lancashire's history......

The climax to the 1970 John Player League campaign could not have better scripted, a Bank Holiday weekend clash with the old enemy Yorkshire. Various sources gave the attendance as 26,000, 27,000 30,000, and 34,000. (Lancashire's Year Book says 27,559). Certainly every inch of the stadium was filled. Fans clambered over the walls. Stewarding was negligible. It was surprising that no-one was badly hurt in the crush but there were plenty of bruised toes as the skinheads' Doc Martin clad feet trod on those of the cricket purists encased in sandals and brown suede Hush Puppies. It was a day which turned English cricket on its head.

Here is how the Daily Mail described it: "Lancashire did far more than win the Sunday League title yesterday. They did what they always vowed they would do and what most of us thought was no longer possible — to fill Old Trafford with 30,000 people so eager to watch their kind of cricket that they were prepared to scale the walls for the privilege.

"And when Harry Pilling nudged the single that carried them past Yorkshire's 165 with only three wickets down the crowd — skinheads and cricket purists alike — swarmed across the field. They gathered in front of the pavilion chanting the chants that they have learned on the football terraces and would not be silenced until skipper Jack Bond appeared on the balcony."

The wave of euphoria carried Lancashire through to the Gillette Cup final at Lord's six days later and swamped Sussex. Pilling and Engineer combined in an unbeaten stand of 72 to wrap it up and while Pilling collected the man of the match award from Alec Bedser, he was quick to give his partner the credit. "It was another great team performance," he said. "I did alright I know but it was good to have Rooky at the other end. Getting the man of the match award was great because my mam and dad were in the crowd. They didn't get to places like London usually, they had holidays in Blackpool and Morecambe."

Clive Lloyd got out early in that game and glumly sat in the dressing room for a while, tears in his eyes, thinking he had blown it. But Pilling and Engineer calmly steered them home in fading light. Lord's was at capacity. Which meant that Lancashire had been watched by an aggregate of over 60,000 fans in two back to back one-day games. Engineer was used to massive crowds in India. Noisy, excitable crowds too. But all this felt new even to him.

"In India we played Test cricket in front of 50,000 crowds regularly and they could get really worked up. But if Lancashire's one-day crowds were not quite that big they made up for it with the noise. They were our 12th man. You wanted to do well for them. I know that a lot of them were younger than in times gone by. Maybe they did not have the same sort of cricketing knowledge as the more established supporters. You could mis-time a shot, get an edge and if it carried to the boundary it would probably get as big a roar as a superb cover drive.

"It was all so different from anything that any of us had experienced. There were trophies at stake. When we did the double in 1970 we had a special presentation back in Manchester and I remember Jack Bond giving me the two pieces of silverware to hold, one in each hand. It was a magical moment. And everywhere we went people stopped and wanted to shake our hands. Some of the Manchester United and Manchester City players were into cricket and we were friendly. United had won the European Cup in 1968, City won the league, the FA Cup and the European Cup-Winners Cup in the same years that we were winning everything and so we all came together to celebrate. Manchester was the capital of sport."

The city swelled with pride. Along with news of sectarian riots in Northern Ireland, race riots in London's Notting Hill, huge economic problems and the break-up of the Beatles, the yellow delivery vans of the Manchester Evening News carried souvenir issues of footballing and cricketing prowess. Those who lived and worked in Manchester and most other parts of England's north-west region could lord it over the rest of the country. Engineer, an adopted son, recalls it vividly and sighs: "Great days. Great days."

Softback Cover with a painting of Farokh by renowned artist Chrissy Pierce.
208 pages plus 32 pages of photographs.
All orders will receive copies signed by Farokh Engineer.
Dedication — if you would like Farokh to include a dedication in the front of the book, please read the details below when purchasing.

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