Surti was an absolute team man: Nari Contractor

Jan 14, 2013, 10:00 IST | Clayton Murzello

When Australia batsman David Warner was hit on the head by Umesh Yadav in the Perth Test of the 2011-12 Australian summer, it reminded Rusi Surti of Nari Contractor's injury at Barbados in 1962

“The ball hit Warner on the same spot. Fortunately, he had a helmet on. I sometimes tell Nari (Contractor) that, ‘you invented the helmet,’ ” Surti told MiD DAY last year.

Surti (76) passed away in a Mumbai hospital yesterday after a cardiac arrest.

Rusi Surti plays a hook shot during his stint with Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. He played for India from 1960-61 to 1969-70. Pic Courtesy: Australian Cricket Yearbook 1972

Contractor, who was knocked down by West Indian fast bowler Charlie Griffith during a tour game against Barbados more than half a century ago, paid tribute to his courageous teammate, who was at the non-striker’s end at the time of his injury.

“Rusi was a real team man,” stressed Contractor. “He and Salim Durrani volunteered to bat higher up the order and that requires courage.”

To his eternal credit, Contractor has never blamed Griffith for his injury. He has laboured on the fact that he was distracted while facing that Test career-turning ball. “Someone opened a window in the dressing room and I thought I would get the problem fixed after that delivery. Something else happened before that delivery.

“When Griffith bowled the third ball of his over to me, I defended it in front of my face and Conrad Hunte took it on the half volley. Rusi at the other end shouted, ‘skipper, he’s chucking.’ I told Rusi not to shout like that because I felt it was not on. If he had a problem, he should tell the umpire. This was playing on my mind as well. After all, Rusi was a committed player and I didn’t enjoy telling him that. I got hit after that ball — the fourth of Griffith’s over and that was that.” 

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