Just what the doc ordered to honour MV Sridhar
Harimohan has injected the right amount of emotion into the book without sentimentalising the story.
As someone who played first-class cricket for Hyderabad in the 1970s, I often rued the accident of time that prevented my taking the field in the company of the likes of Mohammed Azharuddin and VVS Laxman. The prolific MV Sridhar who carried forward this markedly Hyderabadi batting legacy, but failed to impress the national selectors despite his great deeds for his team, was another cricketer to capture my imagination with his stellar showing on the field — and off it, as an administrator of the game. His was a life snatched away (on October 30, 2017) after a particularly stressful period in the annals of the BCCI, which he served with diligence.
I was thrilled to learn that another cricketer I admire, former Hyderabad paceman Harimohan Paruvu, had written a biography of Doc Sridhar, a qualified physician who made cricket rather than medicine his profession. I have hardly watched either the author or his subject in action, but enjoyed my rare interactions with Sridhar and my friendship with Hari, whose impressive output extends beyond cricket and includes fiction. The tall, strapping Hari looks every inch the fast bowler he was, and cuts an impressive figure as life coach and motivational speaker. Characteristically, as he did in earlier works like 50 Not Out and This Way Is Easier, Dad, he lists the life lessons from Sridhar's multifaceted career at the end of each chapter of Renaissance Man. It is evident from these what a complete man Doc was— as son, husband, father, and perhaps above all, friend and mentor to so many. He was an over-achiever in all he attempted, and suffered little or no stress in the process. Loving, caring parents, a proud disciplinarian grandfather renowned nationwide as an engineer responsible for huge irrigation projects, a carefree home environment and an abundance of mentors in the family, all combined to inculcate in young Sridhar a fearless attitude to life, leading him to academic and sporting excellence, and love of music and drama. His alma mater, All Saints High School, Hyderabad, provided the perfect platform for him to express himself in all these fields, and he gravitated organically to leadership roles in all he did. Once he entered competitive cricket he wanted to make every moment on the ground count, especially as he had turned his back on a medical career, after studying medicine to make his grandfather happy.
In his emotional foreword, VVS Laxman says Sridhar was the best captain he played under. "I'd love watching Doc bat session after session, piling up big hundreds. It was from him that I learnt the nuances of batting—not so much technical, but more tactical and psychological." He also praises Sridhar's man-management skills, which served him well, as a player first, and an administrator later.
Harimohan has injected the right amount of emotion into the book without sentimentalising the story. Through his insights, we learn about the romantic side of Doc that swept his wife Sagarika off her feet in the days he was courting her, and the special bond between him and his mother Dr Pushpa who commissioned the work. In all his writings so far, Harimohan has demonstrated a deep understanding of the dynamics of human endeavour, and his empathy for the special animal a sportsman is. With his skilful writing, he proves that cricket is not all about international sport.
Chennai-based V Ramnarayan is a former Hyderabad Ranji Trophy and South Zone off-spinner
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