Farokh Engineer

The whole kerfuffle over Farokh Engineer's claim that selectors of the Indian team were serving tea to Anushka Sharma during the World Cup earlier this year seems to have come to an end with the former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman issuing an apology and a clarification for his statement.

But should Engineer have apologised? Were his comments so bad as to demand an apology and an angry response from the first lady of Indian cricket? This question needs to be answered after deeper consideration rather than just a reflexive expression of indignation.

The whole controversy started when the flamboyant former cricketer hit out at the composition of the Indian selection committee. He questioned why the panel is made up of low-key cricketers who don't have any substantial achievements at the international level.

"We have got a Mickey Mouse selection committee. Virat Kohli has a major impact (in selection) which is very good. But how are the selectors qualified? Between them, have they played about 10-12 Test matches. I didn't even know one of the selectors during the World Cup and I asked him 'who the hell he was,' because he was wearing the India blazer and he said he was one of the selectors."

Virat Kohli Anushka Sharma
Virat and Anushka's photographTwitter

This was the main part of Engineer's comments and they are highly pertinent. There is nothing in this statement that can be construed as offensive. Perhaps, the tone of Engineer was a little immodest but that's his style and something that makes him popular.

Then came the controversial part. "All they were doing was getting Anushka Sharma cups of tea. I feel people with the stature of Dilip Vengsarkar should be in the selection committee," he added.

Now, the 82-year old has said that his reference to Anushka Sharma was merely in jest.

"I just said it in jest and it is being made into a mountain out of a molehill. Poor Anushka has been dragged into it, she is a lovely girl. Virat Kohli is a brilliant captain and coach Ravi Shastri is extremely good. The entire matter is being blown up unnecessarily."

There are two problems with the clarification by the former Test opener. To begin with, if his mention of Anushka Sharma was in a light-hearted tone, it's the fault of the media that they sensationalized the matter. It is the media that used Anushka Sharma's name and fame to make the statement sound scandalous.

Secondly, the point about Indian selectors being relative pygmies in Indian cricket world is not new and has been voiced by many. It is one of the biggest failings of Indian cricket - Not having great former players as selectors.

Ideally, it was the first part of Engineer's comments that should have been highlighted, not the latter. He has flagged a very important issue that needs to be discussed, especially now that a great former cricketer, Sourav Ganguly, is at the helm of BCCI.

Farokh Engineer isn't the villain of the piece, the media is. A strong clarification was necessary, not an apology from the former cricketer.