हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

A gentleman cricketer to the core

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Sunday, November 16, 2003, 16:19 [IST]
 
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At last, the Mysore Express has come to a halt. The ageing pace ace decided to give in to his body, putting to rest speculation regarding whether or not he will tour Australia, the country were he made his Test debut over a decade ago. A fighter to the core, Srinath was an epitome of the gentleman's game. He could easily terrorise the batsmen without using the 'F' and 'B' words. Lanka De Silva and Meyyrick Pringle will be the ones to admit that most. Never the one to indulge in threatening the batsmen with verbal volleys, Srinath preferred to talk with the red cherry. When he apologised to Ricky Ponting for having bowled a bouncer, the latter's response was a barrage of expletives, yet he kept his cool. He has been a role model for the emerging crop of fast bowlersAt last, the Mysore Express has come to a halt. The ageing pace ace decided to give in to his body, putting to rest speculation regarding whether or not he will tour Australia, the country were he made his Test debut over a decade ago.

A fighter to the core, Srinath was an epitome of the gentleman's game. He could easily terrorise the batsmen without using the 'F' and 'B' words. Lanka De Silva and Meyyrick Pringle will be the ones to admit that most. Never the one to indulge in threatening the batsmen with verbal volleys, Srinath preferred to talk with the red cherry. When he apologised to Ricky Ponting for having bowled a bouncer, the latter's response was a barrage of expletives, yet he kept his cool. He has been a role model for the emerging crop of fast bowlers, with both his wisdom as well as mannerisms on the field.

Despite making his Test debut at Brisbane in 91, he was dubbed an NRI fast bowler as he was repeatedly kept out of the playing XI in the subcontinent as spinners were considered to be the best bet in turning tracks. The retirement of Kapil Dev saw the mantle of spearheading the attack falling on him. From then on, he has never looked back. He is perhaps one of those rare bowlers who have helped in nurturing youngsters. Ashish Nehra would be the first to acknowledge that. It was Srinath who suggested the name of Zaheer Khan to the five wise men.

Inswinger was the main forte of this genial paceman from Mysore. Later on, he developed the yorker as well as the slower one. On the top of his CV, it might be his match-winning spell against the Proteas at Motera along with his career-best spell of 8 for 86 against Pakistan, that might find mention, but the spell that shot him into fame and made the pundits and purists to look out was his 4 for 43 in the Cape Town Test. That spell really saw him maturing in to a great bowler from being a tearaway fast bowler.

He has done one better in the abridged version of the game. Sadly, two of his best spells; 4 for 29 against the Aussies at Sydney and a five-wicket haul against England at his home ground saw him ending on the losing side. He had the privilege of taking part in four successive World Cups and the victory over Pakistan in all those four editions is what pleases him most.

However, one could argue that he didn't do justice to his batting potential. The year 1994, when the Caribbeans came to tour India, he showed glimpses of his batting potential by notching up a couple of half-centuries, one amongst which helped skipper Azhar in an early declaration and a subsequent victory. Not to forget his crucial partnerships with Kanitkar and Kumble which saw us winning the Independence Cup in Dhaka against archrivals Pakistan and that famous victory in the Garden City in the Titan Cup against the Kangaroos. His Test-best of 76 had also come on a swinging wicket at Hamilton.

The moment he would regret most is his return from the Caribbean tour party in 1997. Injuries started troubling him since then. Yet he braved them all. The way he came out to bat one-handed against the mighty Aussies in the Mumbai Test is still etched in the memory of cricket lovers. So too, his benevolent act of bowling wides to enable Anil Kumble to get his 10th scalp in New Delhi.

That is Javagal Srinath for you. The ever-ebullient fast bowler who bowled his heart out for India. Be it on the bouncy tracks of the WACA or at the dusty bowls of Ferozshah Kotla. Finally, when he took a last stride in Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bangalore where his teammates gave him a wonderful see-off, one could still see that undying zeal in his eyes, even without being in the blue flannel., with both his wisdom as well as mannerisms on the field. Despite making his Test debut at Brisbane in 91, he was dubbed an NRI fast bowler as he was repeatedly kept out of the playing XI in the subcontinent as spinners were considered to be the best bet in turning tracks. The retirement of Kapil Dev saw the mantle of spearheading the attack falling on him. From then on, he has never looked back. He is perhaps one of those rare bowlers who have helped in nurturing youngsters. Ashish Nehra would be the first to acknowledge that. It was Srinath who suggested the name of Zaheer Khan to the five wise men. Inswinger was the main forte of this genial paceman from Mysore. Later on, he developed the yorker as well as the slower one. On the top of his CV, it might be his match-winning spell against the Proteas at Motera along with his career-best spell of 8 for 86 against Pakistan, that might find mention, but the spell that shot him into fame and made the pundits and purists to look out was his 4 for 43 in the Cape Town Test. That spell really saw him maturing in to a great bowler from being a tearaway fast bowler. He has done one better in the abridged version of the game. Sadly, two of his best spells; 4 for 29 against the Aussies at Sydney and a five-wicket haul against England at his home ground saw him ending on the losing side. He had the privilege of taking part in four successive World Cups and the victory over Pakistan in all those four editions is what pleases him most. However, one could argue that he didn't do justice to his batting potential. The year 1994, when the Caribbeans came to tour India, he showed glimpses of his batting potential by notching up a couple of half-centuries, one amongst which helped skipper Azhar in an early declaration and a subsequent victory. Not to forget his crucial partnerships with Kanitkar and Kumble which saw us winning the Independence Cup in Dhaka against archrivals Pakistan and that famous victory in the Garden City in the Titan Cup against the Kangaroos. His Test-best of 76 had also come on a swinging wicket at Hamilton. The moment he would regret most is his return from the Caribbean tour party in 1997. Injuries started troubling him since then. Yet he braved them all. The way he came out to bat one-handed against the mighty Aussies in the Mumbai Test is still etched in the memory of cricket lovers. So too, his benevolent act of bowling wides to enable Anil Kumble to get his 10th scalp in New Delhi. That is Javagal Srinath for you. The ever-ebullient fast bowler who bowled his heart out for India. Be it on the bouncy tracks of the WACA or at the dusty bowls of Ferozshah Kotla. Finally, when he took a last stride in Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bangalore where his teammates gave him a wonderful see-off, one could still see that undying zeal in his eyes, even without being in the blue flannel.

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