IPL is envy of world but Test format can’t be sacrificed for franchise league cricket: Farokh Engineer

London: The IPL being the “envy of the world” delights former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer but he also wants the stakeholders to pull Test cricket out of “danger” zone, saying the traditional format can’t be sacrificed for the sake of prospering slam-bang version of the sport.

While financially strong nations like India, England and Australia remain committed to Test cricket, players from smaller countries are preferring to ply their trade in franchise leagues around the world as they offer better money.

“Test cricket being in danger is not a good thing. It is good that the game is prospering all over the world through T20 leagues but Test cricket should never be sacrificed,” Engineer told PTI.

“That is why the World Test Championship is a showcase to the world that Test cricket can be just as interesting as limited overs cricket.

“It is a game of chess depending on the conditions. It is the ultimate test for batters. There should be room for both Test and limited overs cricket,” said the 85-year-old, who has travelled to London from his Manchester base to watch the WTC final between India and Australia.

The final is being played at The Oval, where India won their first ever Test in England back in 1971. Engineer had played a big part in that momentous win with a 59-run knock in the first innings. It is remarkable that even at this age, Engineer continues to watch the game closely, including the T20 leagues around the world, as he feels it is important to keep up with the times.

He played the game when cricketers earned Rs 50 a day, but he could not be more happy that the current generation is making millions in the IPL.

“India have taken a lead in Test cricket and in limited overs cricket we have IPL which is the envy of the world. Indian cricket holds the strings and that makes me hugely delighted,” said of one the few Parsi cricketers to have played for India.

He is also of the view that the game was hugely popular even in his heyday and now leagues have taken the game to different locations.

“I watch cricket all the time. It is in my blood. Cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the British. I feel the game was just as popular back then but with T20 it has mushroomed to different places.

“IPL is huge money. We got Rs 50 per day for a five-day Test match,” he said, recollecting a funny incident.

“I remember batting with Sunil Gavaskar, we had to get 15-20 runs on day four and half hour left, we were getting messages from the dressing room that don’t finish the game today, we will lose out on the allowance for day five. We didn’t play for money, we played for pride,” he recollected fondly.

Too early to label Gill as heir apparent to Kohli’:  Engineer is a fan of Virat Kohli and feels he is back to his best after a prolific IPL season. He has also tracked young Shubhman Gill’s rapid rise in international cricket over the last 12 months. He feels the two batters have shown that the shortest format is not just about a slam bang approach.

“It is too early to talk about Gill being heir apparent as Virat has got a few good years left in him. He has got nothing to prove anymore as he has been a superb player and captain for India. He remains the best in the world.

“Gill is a very good batter and is in the form of his life and I am sure he will do well in Tests as well. Gill has proved that T20 cricket is not all about slogging and you can play in conventional style as well.” Asked about his prediction about the WTC final, Engineer gave an emotional answer saying, “As an Indian, I would always want my team to win.” There were no warm-up games ahead of the title clash, something which could have been quite “useful” for both the teams.

“Warm-up games are always useful, but they play so much cricket these days,” concluded Engineer.