Former Tamil Nadu batsman Tirumalai Srinivasan died on Monday morning after a long struggle against brain cancer. The 60-year-old had had two surgeries and was due to have a third when he passed away.
Srinivasan was first noticed when he hit 112 for South Zone against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy in the 1977-78 season. A string of consistent performances, culminating in an innings of 129 in the 1980-81 Deodhar Trophy final and an unbeaten ton against Delhi in the Irani Trophy, earned him a place in the India squad for that season's tour of Australia and New Zealand. A famous anecdote from that tour captured Srinivasan's witty outlook to life. When he landed in Australia, Srinivasan allegedly told a local press reporter, "'Tell Dennis Lillee TE has arrived". He could, however, not make an impact on the field, scoring 48 runs in his solitary Test in Auckland, and failing in two one-dayers.
In an era that included the likes of Kris Srikkanth, Srinivasan was considered by many to be the best batsman of his times to play for Tamil Nadu. Though his international career did not take off, he was quite successful when he turned out in the Yorkshire League for the local outfit Wodehouse. Former England captain Michael Atherton, in his autobiography Opening Up, documented his appreciation of Srinivasan's strokeplay in the league. "A swashbuckling batsman from Madras, Srinivasan was everything that [Sri Lanka's Sidath] Wettimuny was not - wild, aggressive, and totally unorthodox," Atherton wrote. "He was a stalwart for Tamil Nadu, in India, for many years."
S Venkataraghavan, the former India and Tamil Nadu offspinner, recalled Srinivasan as being a wonderful friend. "He enjoyed his cricket as much as he enjoyed life," he said. "In my opinion, he was one of the best I have seen. His death is a great personal loss to me."
The latter part of Srinivasan's life was dominated by his protracted battle against cancer. He underwent his first surgery immediately after being diagnosed with a malignant tumour at the age of 54, following which he managed to lead a near-normal life. However, a risky second surgery to remove the residual tumour and scar tissue, that had formed due to his treatment, left him almost paralysed and speechless. He responded remarkably to an advanced second line of therapy recommended by doctors from New York University. Having put up a brave front against the disease, Srinivasan was keen to help cancer patients and dreamt of setting up a hospital or a foundation to that end. Unfortunately, he could not live long enough to see the cause through to its completion.