Shri L.K. Advani's latest blog

ONE’S LAST SHIRT HAS NO POCKET

As a schoolboy I was a regular student who rarely missed classes. But I do remember having once bunked school just to watch a Ranji Trophy cricket match in which to the best of my recollection either Vijay Hazare or Vinoo Mankad was playing.

I have been fond of cricket since then. Those days there was no television; so, cricket lovers could enjoy important matches played elsewhere only by listening to the commentary on AIR. I recall a BBC interview with me some years back in which the interviewer was discussing with me my non-political interests like films, books and cricket, in which at one point I tried to imitate a cricket commentary by the outstanding commentator of that era, AFS Talyarkhan.

I find it extremely disgusting, therefore, to find that cricketers are making front page headlines these days not because of the records they break, either in their batting or bowling performance, but simply because of the wealth they have been amassing due to their match-fixing, or spot-fixing, and in the process making the bookies and gamblers also grow richer !

Lao Tzu was an outstanding Chinese philosopher of the sixth century B.C. All his wise sayings emphasise that there is no greater calamity than lavish desires. The book “Way of Lao Tzu” quotes him saying “There is no greater disaster than greed”.
Benedict Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher has listed avarice and lust as not just vices, but as ‘madness’! I wish every mortal realises that one’s last shirt has no pocket.

Shekhar Gupta’s ‘Walk the Talk’ interviews in the Indian Express almost always provide rich reading fare to the readers. Earlier this month he had a lively interview with a one time wicket keeper of India’s cricket team, Farokh Engineer.
The full page interview with this former wicket-keeper bore a banner headline, giving a quote of the former fast bowler: If you are afraid of fast bowling, go find a different profession like banking’.

In Indian cricket today, Virendra Sehwag has the reputation of being the fastest opening run-getter; in those early years Engineer was the only batsman who scored a century in 46 balls ! In the entire interview while contrasting the present with the past era of cricket matches there is mention of how excellently made are bats nowadays, whereas in Farokh’s time, “hamara toh Brooke Bond chai ka dabba tha; there was no middle at all; you had to really oil it and all that Woh zamana tha !”

The biggest contrast that emerges, of course, is that in earlier years there was never any question of any test cricketer earning money out of his prowess. In fact introducing Farokh Engineer, Shekhar Gupta told the TV viewers: “Did you know that long before M.S. Dhoni, there was an Indian wicket keeper whose hairstyle and whose dashing methods became the rage all over India ?
Pursuing this reference to Engineer’s hair style, Shekhar Gupta said: “You became famous with your side burns. You were a great Brylcreem model”

It is in the context of the earnings of cricketers nowadays that this Brylcreem reference keeps recurring throughout the interview. To Shekhar’s comment: “People may not know what Brycreem is any more”, Farookh’s response was :
“Brylcreem was the thing, If you were approached by Brylcreem, you have made it in life. Then you are a good looking swine or whatever. And Brylcreem actually paid me Pounds 500 more if I batted without a cap !”
Later on in the interview, recalling how Australians and the other foreigners used to call us “bloody Indians”, Farokh says: That annoyed me; that hurt because I’m fiercely proud of being an Indian. And abhi IPL ke sab paise hain, they all come here to earn money”.
The closing paragraphs of the interview run as follows :
S.G. So if this was the Indian team that scripted the great cricket turnaround, Farokh, I can see what made it possible. It was the spirit and the joy that people like you had in the game.
F.E. With no money in the game. 
S.G. Except a few hundred pounds from Brylcreem. That’s much before Kapil Dev did Palmolive.
F.E. Brylcreem was international, Palmolive was very local. When you’re a Brylcreem model, it was like appearing on the Vogue magazine cover, it went all over the world.  So it was quite a thing to be a Brylcreem endorsee.
S.G.    For so many decades, Farokh, Indian cricket did not have a greater international citizen to endorse it than you. So once again, what a privilege to have this conversation.
F.E. Absolute pleasure.
The political scams the country has been hearing about since the Commonwealth Games of 2008 have earned for the nation a lot of disrepute. But this last phase involving a different breed of icons only point out what is at the root of all this degradation; it is MONEY.
It has been very rightly said: To possess money is very well; it may be a very valuable servant. But to be possessed by money is to be possessed by a devil, and one of the meanest and worst kind of devils !


L.K. AdvaniNew Delhi26 May, 2013

Latest News