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Cricket in England is a reflection of life

india Updated: Aug 02, 2011 01:10 IST
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Farokh Engineer and Dilip Doshi, two former players who served India with distinction, are now settled in England. Farokh was one of Indian cricket's original stars (with Tiger Pataudi, Salim Durrani and ML Jaisimha), and his aggressive batting ensured he enjoyed fan following and commercial appeal.

Having worked in the county circuit for long, Farokh is a popular figure, someone who always has a joke to share, an interesting story to tell. Dilip, in comparison, is correct and measured, like his accurate and relentless left-arm spin. A successful businessman, Dilip always dresses sharp and is a fitness fanatic, who eats and lives healthy. Farokh, once debonair and dashing, carries extra weight round the middle.

Dilip's advice to India spinners: bowl with pride, work on the batsman's flaws to take wickets. There is no point just looking to contain. A fielder at deep point fielder is a waste, it is too defensive.

Someone asked Farokh why modern batsmen (Kevin Pietersen and VVS Laxman) have a batting stance with their legs wide apart. His answer: Unprintable, even Aamir Khan would have censored that in Delhi Belly! Both Dilip and Farokh remain in touch with cricket, they have experienced, first hand, the passion and emotion of cricket in the sub-continent, and yet admire the restrained respect the game enjoys in England. In India, the focus is on the player and the top star is a celebrity. The current deity is Sachin Tendulkar and every fan a devotee.

England, clearly is different because cricket here is bigger than all Ian Bothams-Andy Flintoffs and others put together. Cricket is much more than sport, it is an integral part of culture.

Given this larger context, cricket in England extends beyond a debate on stats, which obsesses the average Indian cricket supporter. A cricket game on a good summer day is a social occasion, the contest in the middle a reflection of life where lessons learnt on the pitch are equally valuable than what is taught in a classroom.