Former Delhi pacer Suresh Luthra dies

Former Delhi and North Zone fast bowler Suresh Luthra passed away at the age of 74 in Faridabad following prolonged illness.

Luthra played 67 matches in his first-class career and also served Delhi as a coach, manager and selector.   -  The Hindu Archives

Former Delhi and North Zone fast bowler Suresh Luthra passed away in Faridabad on Tuesday following prolonged illness. He was 74 and is survived by wife and two sons.

Luthra, a left-armer with pronounced swing which left many reputed batsmen baffled, was a trusted match-winner for his team. A student of Swami Talwar, well known coach and player from Punjab, he was a much feared bowler in the North.

“I have seen his style and skills for a long time,” said former Haryana off-spinner Sarkar Talwar. “We knew each other for 40 years and believe me he was devastating as a bowler. He would run through the opposition and was a favourite of the captain. He was a lovable character and much-respected for his gentle behaviour off the field. On the field he was fiercely competitive.”

For Vinay Lamba, a former Delhi captain, it was a personal loss. “We grew up in west Delhi and played for the same club (Salwan). My association with him was 50 years old. He should have played higher grade of cricket.”

It is said that in tournaments in the north many teams would request the organisers not to put them in the same group as State Bank of India (SBI). “It's true,” said Talwar. “Suresh would destroy the opposition with his prodigious swing and he was a terror on matting pitches. I have seen batsmen step away against Suresh. He was really quick.”

In Lamba's view, “He was a gentleman. Very helpful. He was sincere in every assignment that he undertook. He was a fast bowler with swing as his forte but he had a terrific slower one. He would turn the ball a big way. It was not easy to pick him.”

Luthra maintained a scrap book of his exploits as a young bowler. The pages were highlighted by paper cuttings with screaming headlines “Luthra lethal; Luthra destroys; Luthra devastating.” As Talwar pointed out, “it was always Luthra versus opposition.”

After a first-class career of 67 matches (1014 runs with one century and 262 wickets with 9 for 70 as his best), Luthra served Delhi as a coach, manager and selector. “His reading of the game made him a popular man on the cricket circuit. He was a good cricketer who was also a good human being,” noted Talwar.

He was committed to cricket. Talwar fondly remembered, “He even played a local match on his wedding day.”

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