Saturday, Jun 25, 2022

A Tearway And A Gentleman

The amiable mechanical engineer, who stayed away from controversies to earn many fans in the game which made him popular worldwide, calls it a day after realising he would not be able to board the flight for Australia

A Tearway And A Gentleman

Having gallantly shouldered India's pace bowling responsibilities for over a decade, Javagal Srinath today bid adieu to international cricket bringing to an end the career of one of the fastest bowlers in the country.

The 34-year-old Karnataka speedster, who scripted many a memorable victory in a career spanning 12 years, has been plagued by niggling injuries since the last couple of years and the decision, coming barely a few days before the Australian tour, did not come as a surprise.

Srinath had hinted recently in Kolkata of an imminent retirement saying he might hang his boots if he felt he was not fully fit ahead of India's tour Down Under later this month.

"Yes, I have decided to retire. It is time to go," Srinath told reporters in Bangalore realising he would not be able to board the flight for Australia, the team for which is to be announced on Thursday.

"I have no regrets. In fact I am happy that Indian fast bowling is in good health with the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra," Srinath said.

Arguably one of India's fastest bowler ever, Srinath was a regular in the team for years together after taking the pace mantle from the legendary Kapil Dev in 1993-94. 

A rare gentleman among modern-day fast bowlers, most of them notorious for their tongue lashing and sledging, Srinath captured 236 wickets in 67 Tests at an average of 30.49. His best of 8 for 86 came against arch-rivals Pakistan in Kolkata in an Asian Test Championship match in February, 1999.

The second-most successful bowler after Kapil (434 Test wickets), Srinath's Test records may not be too flattering, but his showing in one-day cricket was enviable, grabbing 315 wickets in 229 matches at an economy rate of 4.44.

Srinath, only the fifth bowler to take over 200 wickets in one-day internationals, also has the distinction of grabbing the maximum number of five-wicket hauls by an Indian bowler in the shorter version of the game.

Making his Test debut in 1991 against Australia at Brisbane, Srinath gamely took on the task of bowling his heart out on lifeless Indian wickets with reasonable success.

Often compared to the likes of Allan Donald in terms of speed, Srinath was at his devastating best in overseas conditions during his peak years.

But like many of the fast bowlers, the lanky Srinath also had his share of despairing moments as the wear and tear of bowling long spells took a toll on his shoulder forcing him to sit out on a few tours.

Tired and disgruntled after the tour of West Indies in 2002, Srinath sprung a surprise by announcing his retirement from Test cricket but was coaxed into retracting his decision by captain Saurav Ganguly.

Responding to the captain's call, Srinath made himself available for the West Indies series at home but injury worries forced him to skip the tour of New Zealand in December last year.

However, Srinath regained full fitness before the 2003 World Cup where he played a stellar role to guide India to the final against Australia.

Srinath also turned out for county sides Gloucestershire and Leicestershire in separate stints to further hone his skills on bouncy English pitches.

A senior statesman of the team, Srinath passed on his vast experience and useful tips to the younger crop of fast bowlers like Zaheer and Nehra who blossomed under his tutelage, the results of which were evident during the World Cup.

It is creditable the way Srinath, nicknamed Babu, stood out and kept his place in the team even as his new-ball partners kept changing.

A qualified mechanical engineer, the amiable Srinath stayed away from controversies and maintained a low-profile to earn many fans in the game which made him popular worldwide.



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