Farokh Engineer October 5, 2013

'I always idolised Muhammad Ali'

Farokh Engineer on meeting Ali, being rewarded for a catch in the outfield, and being yelled at despite having scored a century

First big scolding on the cricket field
In a Ranji Trophy match, I had scored over 150 runs in the second innings. My team, Bombay, was only a few runs short of the target when I got out to a lofted shot. Mine was the seventh wicket to fall. As I returned to the pavilion, our manager, Polly Umrigar, gave me a piece of his mind and yelled, "If we lose the match, it would be because of you."

First sporting hero
I always idolised Muhammad Ali. He was a tremendous fighter and a great man. I met him a couple of times. Felt really honoured when he presented me his book with the words written: "With best wishes to Farokh".

First good catch
It did not come behind the stumps but in the outfield. It was a small club game during my early cricketing life. I ran some distance and dived to grasp the ball. My father was in attendance and rewarded me with Rs 50. For a schoolkid, it was one hell of a lot of money in those days.

First time I felt I belonged at the highest level
When I was selected for the World XI in 1970. It was a great honour to be a part of the team having such illustrious names as Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Mike Procter, Barry Richards, among others.

First time I was called Rooky
Fred Trueman invented this nickname. He extracted "Rooky" from my name "Farokh".

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on cricket and other sports. For more about him and samples of his published work, visit www.sportscorrespondent.info