Rusi Surti 1936-2013 January 13, 2013

A jigar baaz cricketer

Team-mates pay tribute to former India allrounder Rusi Surti, who died at the age of 76

Chandu Borde, former India team-mate
When a batsman hit the ball hard, Rusi, usually standing at a close-in position, would rush to the ball. That approach was completely in contrast to the rest of fielders who would normally wait for the ball to come. He was a very good allrounder and if he had played one-day cricket, he would have been really successful. He was an asset to the Indian side.

Unfortunately, he was not consistent and that played against him. But his best quality was his grit. He was a jigar baaz (braveheart) cricketer. He would never take things lying down, he always liked to fight it out.

Bapu Nadkarni, former India team-mate
He was a very old colleague of mine. We played together for about 18 years for Bombay and Times of India in the local Mumbai leagues. He was a really bold, big-hearted cricketer. Take the example of the second Test of the 1967-68 tour of Australia: it was a horrible wicket, an absolute green pitch with lot of movement. There was no chance we could face the likes of Garth McKenzie. India won the toss and elected to bat and were 25 for 5. Surti had retired earlier, hit just that once by McKenzie, but returned later to give Tiger (Nawab of Pataudi Jr) good support. If not for their daring knocks (and partnership worth 74 runs for the eighth wicket), India would have faced the disgrace of getting out for a low total. Rusi's 30 was the finest innings on one of the fastest pitches, and he was proud of that innings, but would never talk about it himself. I have not seen a bigger fighter than him against all odds. Whatever side, tournament and level he played for, Rusi was a great team man.

Farokh Engineer, former India team-mate
"Uska baap ka kya gaya [how would it matter to him?]" was the line Rusi loved to use from his young days. Delivering it with that Parsi-Gujarati accent, he made it sound more interesting. He once said it reacting to Bill Lawry in the 1967 Mumbai Test, after the Australian had missed an easy full toss. Rusi, standing at silly mid-on, had turned his back as the batsman went for the stroke, but as soon as he heard the Australian captain use curse words, he instinctively came up with his favourite line. I had to pacify him in native Gujarati, but Rusi would not listen.

I had known him from our days at the Dadar Parsi Colony Sporting Club and our careers ran parallel. He was an extremely talented player and a brilliant fielder. Along with Tiger Pataudi, Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali and myself behind the stumps, we comprised a very good fielding unit at one time. I would thank Rusi for improving my wicketkeeping skills. Playing for the Parsi Cylicsts in the Kanga League on horribly wet pitches, he would turn the ball from wide outside the leg stump and curl it outside off stump. He should have played more Test matches considering he was an extremely talented cricketer.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 14, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Indeed he was one of my childhood cricketing heroes. I used to hear and read a lot about him when only radio and newspapers were available. We used to always admire his fielding and his grit and determination on the field. R.I.P.

  • InsideHedge on January 13, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    Great to read musings from Rusi's peers, I have a special fondness for our players from the bygone eras, they were larger than life to us. We could rarely see them, often we never saw them in action, radio commentators and cricket writers were our eyes.

    Rusi Surti was one of only 275 men to play Test Cricket for India. We, the fans, salute him. RIP.

  • dharme999 on January 14, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    RIP to the first ever to make 1000 runs in a Ranji Season...Great man indeed..

  • on January 13, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Another great character from the past leaves us

  • on January 14, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Indeed he was one of my childhood cricketing heroes. I used to hear and read a lot about him when only radio and newspapers were available. We used to always admire his fielding and his grit and determination on the field. R.I.P.

  • InsideHedge on January 13, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    Great to read musings from Rusi's peers, I have a special fondness for our players from the bygone eras, they were larger than life to us. We could rarely see them, often we never saw them in action, radio commentators and cricket writers were our eyes.

    Rusi Surti was one of only 275 men to play Test Cricket for India. We, the fans, salute him. RIP.

  • dharme999 on January 14, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    RIP to the first ever to make 1000 runs in a Ranji Season...Great man indeed..

  • on January 13, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Another great character from the past leaves us

  • on January 13, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    Another great character from the past leaves us

  • dharme999 on January 14, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    RIP to the first ever to make 1000 runs in a Ranji Season...Great man indeed..

  • InsideHedge on January 13, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    Great to read musings from Rusi's peers, I have a special fondness for our players from the bygone eras, they were larger than life to us. We could rarely see them, often we never saw them in action, radio commentators and cricket writers were our eyes.

    Rusi Surti was one of only 275 men to play Test Cricket for India. We, the fans, salute him. RIP.

  • on January 14, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Indeed he was one of my childhood cricketing heroes. I used to hear and read a lot about him when only radio and newspapers were available. We used to always admire his fielding and his grit and determination on the field. R.I.P.