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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 08:55 GMT
Farokh Engineer: Your questions answered

Farokh Engineer began his Test career in 1961 and played 46 matches in all, scoring 2,611 runs and taking 66 catches behind the wicket, with 16 stumpings.

A stalwart for Lancashire for many seasons, Engineer's distinguished international career came to an end when he retired following the 1975 World Cup.

With the start of the Test series between India and Australia looming, he joins Sport Online to answer your questions.

Carl Kerl from Brisbane asks:

Q: You were in the Indian side, beaten 3-1 by Australia in 1969. How would that Australian team match up against the current one?

A: That Australian team was very good. Australia have always been strong except when Kerry Packer took all the players away and they went through a lean patch.

Then they built up again, and now have a very, very formidable team, certainly the best team in the world today.

They had great players then, they have great players now. Shane Warne is certainly a finer spinner than they had before. But the pace attack and batting strength are about the same.

Ati Guah from the USA asks:

Farokh Engineer takes a throw from the boundary
Engineer: An accomplished wicket-keeper
Q: How do you rate the current Indian keepers with respect to yourself and S.Kirmani?

A: Regrettably the standard of keeping has gone down terribly, from what I have been seeing. I hate saying that because when a country or when a county has had good keepers, it's tradition.

Kent, for example, always had very good wicket-keepers like Godrey Evans and Alan Knott, and somehow that department has fallen down badly. I don't rate the current Indian keepers very highly. And that's most regrettable.

Ron Ward from Australia writes:

Q: India have always produced wickets "to order" to favour the home side. How big an influence will this have on the upcoming series?

A: Not only India, but I think every country plays on wickets to suit their own bowlers. India would normally prefer spin wickets, especially when they had great spinners in Prasanna, Bedi and Chandrasekhar.

But unfortunately India do not have that trio these days and by making a steady wicket for Shane Warne, I think they would be digging their own grave.

Darly from Australia asks:

Q: Do you think continually playing on slow turning pitches at home impacts on India's performance on tours to other countries?

A: It certainly does because if you get used to a wicket in the rest of the world you are not going to find them. So preparing those wickets certainly is going to be harmful. He's certainly got a good point there.

Uthams from USA writes:

Javagal Srinath takes a wicket
Srinath: Will look to make inroads with the new ball
Q: Kumble is not playing. Srinath is not a menacing as he used to be. Who is going to be India's match-winner in the bowling department?

A: Oh good question. Kumble was the main match winner. Srinath certainly used to be in devastating form; one would like to see him come back to his own peak. He's a great bowler and he ranks amongst the best in the world. But unfortunately he's gone off the boil.

There's Prasad, he's a very clever bowler and can tie the batsman down but I don't think he can run through a side. It's a very difficult question.

The very the fact that they have recalled Narendra Hirwani at the age of 32 shows the fact that they are desperately looking for somebody.

There is no young blood coming through. There are no great spinners coming through, which is a sad state of affairs.

Sandeep Pai from the USA asks:

Q: I am wondering what are Australia's chances in India. Do you think they are as good as they claim on spin tracks?

A: Australia are the most complete batters in the world today. Give them spinning wickets or give them quick wickets, give them any wickets and they are capable of beating any side in the world today.

India are a very strong batting side, Tendulkar, Ganguly all the boys, certainly will get their quota of runs, but to beat Australia in a Test match you have to get them out twice.

I just don't think India have the bowlers to do that. Australia certainly have the upper hand, as an Indian I regret to say that.

Jaswant from India asks:

Q: Who is the better batsman in your opinion, Sachin Tendulkar or Sunil Gavaskar?

A: Sunil Gavaskar went through patches; he was a great player, tremendous concentration. But I think for all round stroke play I would certainly put Tendulkar above him.

Sachin Tendulkar collects a boundary
Tendulkar has all the shots
Sachin is not afraid to hit the ball for a start. A bounce or a long hop, he will go for it and is under a lot more pressure than Gavaskar was. Gavaskar had some good batsman to play with. In Tendulkar's case if he fails then the whole team would fail.

I think man for man, Tendulkar and Gavaskar are very, very difficult to compare. Both have tremendous concentration, both are great players but I would just put Tendulkar that shade ahead.

Ramesh from the USA writes:

Q: Last time Sachin and Sidhu were aggressive against Shane Warne and made mincemeat out of him! Will Warne be treated with too much respect by Indian batsmen?

A: Most definitely not. Indian batsmen are used to leg spinners, they use the feet.

Even in club grounds or school cricket when a young man sees a flighted ball he'll used his feet and get him to pitch the ball. Indian bowlers certainly go for Shane Warne, there's no doubt about that. Who knows we may even see a new Sachin Tendulkar on the scene.

There are quite a few youngsters and they are not afraid of Shane Warne. The word Warne doesn't make them forget to bat. They are quite capable of getting the pitch of the ball and smacking them all over the place.

Jiten Rana from England asks:

Q: I think the Indians will end the Australians winning streak although they will not defeat them overall. The battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne will decide the overall score. I believe it will be tied at 1-1. What is your prediction?

A: India in India are very formidable opposition, they always have been, so nothing would surprise me really.

It will be interesting to see how Hirwani is bowling these days or one or two other spinners they have on the horizon.

If they bowl well and the batsmen bat well, who knows a draw is certainly a possibility. I wouldn't put any money against a draw.

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10 Jan 01 |  Sports Talk
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