Wednesday, December 29, 2010

D. Suresh - Stylish batsman, Artist and an IAS Officer

When we were in All Saints High School, circa 1977-82, one name that we used to hear a lot was that of D. Suresh, the star batsman of the school. Suresh was in my batch, he was in X B while I was in X C (X B had Telugu as second language and X C had Hindi as second language). We would watch him play as he practised with the team in our ground and appreciate how he would drive the ball so well. Of course Suresh was too classical a batsman for us gully cricketers to appreciate his technique which was quite evolved even then. I got a whiff of that awesome technique when I finally got picked fort the cricket team in 1982, in my Xth.

The All Saints High School team had many established stars already. Suresh and Ehtesham had played for the Hyderabad Under 19 already, while Masood, Srinivas Chakravarthy had played for the Under 15 state team. MoSt others in the team had played quite a bit of cricket already at the school level and league level including Iftekhar (Azhar's younger brother), Noel David (who later played for India), Michael, Abdul Rub, Subodh and so on. But if there was a star in the team, it was Suresh.

Suresh was the first cricketer I saw who had his own individual kit. And a brand new Graynicolls bat. He'd get tons of runs at every level of the game. As I started playing cricket at the league level for the school, a big jump from the gully cricket and cork ball matches we played earlier, I realised how wonderfully evolved his technique was. He had one of the best straight drives in the state - in fact one of the best I have seen ever. We had a fair season that year. I was too raw to be on backslapping terms with Suresh but I think the first time I really got to know him was when I got picked for the Under 15 team. I was to be dropped from the team and I had enough indications of that so when I told my father that, someone who never liked to influence anyone on such issues, he decided to stand up. Not to get me a place unfairly in the team because my performance in the leagues was by far the best (we had packed out the famous HPS Begumpet batting for 70, I got 5 for 25 that match). He took me to meet his friend who was also Suresh's father to tell him simply that no injustice must be done. As luck would have it one of the main bowlers Bharat fell sick with jaundice and I was called to replace him. The rest is history as I helped Hyderabad win the South Zone championships. What's more I got picked to play for South Zone - the boy who was not good to play for Hyderabad was playing for the South Zone - that vindicated everything.

The first day after that tournament I was going to school when I bumped into Suresh at the Church and there was genuine joy in his eyes when he saw and congratulated me. We then went to Nalgonda to play the Montfort tournament and then, we all went separate ways as we were done with school. Until we all got together again in the Hyderabad Under 19, Under 22, Under 25, Buchi Babu, Osmania University, Ranji Trophy sides and several South Zone tournaments in the span of the next four years. By 1986 we had achieved our pinnacle of having won the Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad!

Those were growing up years and we toured the length and breadth of the country with dreams of playing for India, performing at all levels. Suresh was in demonic form those days, and was billed even by Azhar as the batsman most likely to follow him to the India team. Suresh scored at every level, hundreds after hundreds, elbow straight up, defence impregnable, shots coming like bullets off his bat. He was a sight to watch. I cannot forget the Buchi Babu match against Tamil Nadu when he got hit on his nose by a bouncer in what was an initiation to 'big' cricket, fractured it, came back with a swollen face, eyes like slits, bruised black, and he took the field the next morning as Hyderabad was in a spot. The first ball was a bouncer again and hit him exactly in the same place - only this time he had a visor on his helmet and was saved. But after that, he scored the most sublime 97 runs I have ever seen, smashing the fearsome Tamil Nadu attack to pieces, with sixes over point over square leg and so on. That was an unbelievable knock and everyone who saw it remembers it clearly to this day.

Suresh had a zany sense of humour which we all enjoyed. He loved music. He loved a good laugh and the good life. And he loved break dancing. He was a natural athlete just as all his brothers were, good at academics. He played great tennis. He dressed well, played his cricket seriously and had it not been for a hostile and unfriendly bunch of senior cricketers the year that he made his Ranji debut, he would have easily played for India. They put too much pressure on him and made sure he failed. It was sad to see them do that to Suresh and many of us juniors - playing their tricks just as the Kaurva warriors did with Abhimanyu and his like. Suresh soon quit playing cricket. That was a sad day.

He did his MBA from Osmania University and wrote the Civil Services.He got selected for the IPS and attempted again next year. This time he got the IAS. I merely heard of his progress, never met him after 1988 I guess. I heard he was in Haryana. Many years later, maybe in 2007, someone gave me his number and I called him and we chatted after so long, almost twenty years. 'Harry,' he said in the way he always called me and we shared some nice memories. I was in touch with him ever since and he helped me a lot when I launched my second book 'If You Love Someone..' in Delhi in 2010. He had a powerful post in Delhi then and he was kind enough to make time to visit the book launch and also invite me over to his house for dinner. It was great to catch up with my old chum after all these years. In his office I noticed huge paintings of landscapes which he had painted - really nice stuff. I asked him when he started painting and he said I always painted even in school.

Suresh represents all that one should look for when one talks of how sports helps someone make a success of his life. His focus, hard work preparation are all there to see. He still looks as fit as he was in college, and has preserved himself extremely well. A doing father of his two young sons, who also play cricket and are also interested in several other things, Suresh says he plays an odd game once in while - but nothing serious. Currently Suresh is with the Haryana Urban Development Authority in Faridabad, loves taking challenging assignments, speaks Hindi like it was his mother tongue and commentates once in a while on sports on DD where his multi faceted wife Kanti sometimes anchors shows. D. Suresh will achieve great heights in his job no doubt, but I would give anything, even today, to go an watch that straight drive of his. Good luck Suresh in all that you do and wishing you better luck than in the cricket fields. Until we meet again then!

5 comments:

Abhijit said...

Dear Hari,

Your columns brought back a flood of memories. I was LFHS and played in the Montfort tournament in Nalgonda. We were never a great cricketing side though LFHS produced some good cricketers. But, in that tourney, Masood showed me how to take the proper stance while batting and you had me nicking an out-swinger to Ehtesham in just my second over at the crease. This may not even have registered in your memory but I remember vividly. You, Suresh, Masood, Ehte in your team - that sealed everybody's fate. Great to rediscover you after all these years and very happy at your success and overjoyed reading your memoirs. All the best in the future. Abhijit Afzalpurkar, LFHS, 1983. Currently reside in Southern California.

Harimohan said...

Hi Abhijit, Great to hear from you. I remember Nalgonda very well since it was our last year at school. We must have played the final did we? I remember getting wickets in both matches, just coming off the South Zone U15 side which gave me immense confidence. Yes, those were good times. I do keep meeting the old bunch once in a while - in fact all three Masood, Ehtu and D.Suresh feature at the end credits of the movie Golconda High School which is based on my novel The Men Within. And for the Little Flower connection, even that of M.V.Sridhar who later joined LFJC. Good to hear from you and keep in touch!

Raghavan said...

Hari,

Very nice blog.

Suresh was such an awesome batsman. Sad that he could not play for the country.

If you talk to suresh ..say hi...and pass on his email id to me.

Bye,
Raghavan V

Harimohan said...

Hi Raghavan,
Good to hear from you. I loved watching Suresh play - and I really wished he'd played longer. But those days we had to make up our minds quickly - especially if we had the Civils to crack! I will convey your greetings to Suresh. Do let me know your email so I can forward his mail id. Thanks for writing in.

VishwaVani said...

Hari,

Great article. A blog written by a cricketer on his counterpart is always a great one to read.

Have known D Suresh during those days that you blogged about. Can you please share his contact details to vishu2 AT gmail DOT com?