Please No Srinath !

I love Indian ex-cricketers.

Navjyot Singh Sidhu left the team in a lurch in England on the basis of a petty tiff and today lectures others on commitment.

During World Cup 2003, Venkatesh Prasad (whose batting skills rescued many a match for India at No 11)looks at the camera with his dolorous bovine eyes and says that one of the main problems India has is that none of the bowlers can be expected to contribute much with that bat.

Krish Srikkanth. During his tenure as captain in Pakistan, his form had plumbed such abysmal depths that in one match (ODI) he got out to Wasim Akram (he wasted ball after ball unable to touch his ferocious outswingers) by nicking one behind—-so happy was Pakistan to have him at the crease that Akram actually took back the appeal ! And Sri continued his tortuous ploddings unabated much to India’s detriment.

Many years later , during the World Cup 2003, this “selfless” ex-cricketer (now a pundit) opines that Ganguly’s ideal batting position is as the 14th man and hints , rather bluntly, that Ganguly is hanging onto his captaincy’s chair and should relinquish it asap.

And now here comes Srinath , shamelessly canvassing for the job of the Indian bowling coach, but not being honest enough to accept the fact.

Nothing wrong with some self promotion. But then this plug raises my heckles.

The fast bowling department in India has been orphaned,” said Srinath, speaking at a symposium, organized by the Sports Journalists Federation of India in Mumbai, on Wednesday.

Orphaned? Orphaned because presumably you left the Indian cricket team eh Srinath ? And now here is an opportunity, as good as any, for the lost-in-the-woods lambkins to have their daddy back.

Technology is here to stay. It has a lot of advantages and can throw light on many hidden aspects of the game.”

Yes we got that one too ! We remember that you are an engineer and hence will be the ideal person to give “technological” inputs to the team (unlike Fair and Lovely Amarnath who brought his brother-in-law to give a laptop presentation). Granted that was subtle.

I may be being harsh, but in my opinion Srinath represents all that was wrong with Indian cricket is the 90s.

To give the devil his due, he was the best fast bowler in the country in the 90s. He bowled some terrific spells and had a few outstanding performances. He was unlucky too—-he frequently did not have support at the other end, Indian batsmen never posted decent totals on foreign soil and so he never had runs to play with.

Not his fault.

So what’s wrong with him being the bowling coach?

Firstly, because he never showed much of bowling acumen. Prabhakar, a man of very mediocre talents and even more mediocre morals, had much more chutzpah. Not that I am saying he should be the bowling coach. (Maybe the “betting” coach. Ok PJ.)

But the main reason why Srinath’s legacy is fundamentally flawed is that whenever the country needed him, he was found wanting. Srinath threw in the towel too easily.

This makes him a wrong role model for the new generation of Indian bowlers because Srinath can never teach anyone mental toughness. Cause he himself lacked it.

Many bowlers have shoulder injuries—only Srinath believed in throwing underarm or roundarm for a major part of his career.

Time and again, when guts and gore were needed, Srinath wilted. In the WC final under relentless attack from the Aussie blasters, he gave in meekly and was reduced to bowling slow legspinners with the resignation of a lamb to the slaughter.

McGrath gets hit for a four. He stands, stares at the batsman, mouths a word or two and comes back, hitting a perfect line and more often than not getting his man.

Srinath gets tonked for four. He lifts up his hands as if it was the fielder’s fault, shows disgust at everyone except himself—-his shoulders droop, he does not make eye contact with the batsman and stutters in like a headless chicken for the next delivery. We all know what happens next.

But even this could be forgiven. What definitely could not be was the way Srinath would pick and choose the games he wanted to play.

One day he is retiring from one day cricket, and then oh no sorry next day he is retiring from Test cricket but is available for the one days. But not this one day series—-he shall play the one after this one.

Ganguly pleads with him publicly to stay with the team. Srinath says “nothing doing”. And then on “public demand” comes back for the World Cup 2003 . Then when again his experience is needed on the Australian tour, he starts playing prima donna again. Sourav gives up on Srinath’s “new bride tantrums” and the Indian team leave without him.

The Indian team succeeds in Australia and Srinath , in his Rediff columns, tries to take the credit. Yes the credit for the success of those same bowlers whom he now says are orphaned without him.

Despite a bad loss to West Indies and not withstanding what Imran and Akram says, Inzi has done the right thing by saying “no” to Shoaib Akthar who , like Srinath, plays matches according to his wishes.

It’s too late to do anything to Javagal Srinath but the last thing the Indian team of 2005 needs is to be saddled with the relic-of- the -90s ” don’t stand up and be counted instead lie down and be mounted” attitude which regrettaby will be what Srinath will bring to the table.

13 thoughts on “Please No Srinath !

  1. Awesome. You are one of the best rant writers out there. And ofcourse I mean it as a compliment. I never had a high opinion of Srinath. Infact I think you are more kind to him when you say, he was the “best, fast…no support frm teammates” whatever. I can’t recall a single match, which he won for us (if at all he did) based on his sheer bowling prowess.
    And how many 5WI he has had in Tests or ODIs. Just compare that to the new turks – pathan, balaji or bhajji. Now remember how many times these guys have given us match-winning performances in their short careers till now. The only image which comes to my mind of Srinath is, as you said, drooping shoulders..and..and, “crossed hands trying to support those shoulders” (remember?). It’s an image firmly etched in my mind.
    And IIRC he a tech-firm which does some research with slow-mo videos for fast ballers and stuff like that. I have no idea how good/bad is that. So he’s making a dual pitch. If not for the coach, atleast the s/w which his firm produces.
    Sadly, with cricket growing into such a behemoth, that the media is falling short of heroes, hence the adulation and microphones accorded to precious losers from the past like srinath, kris..even shastri (but atleast shastri doesn’t suck as much in his comments).

  2. You were scarred for life by the Dravid-condom image?! Every time I see Srinath now I’m going to imagine him lying down in the centre of the pitch with Matthew Hayden mounting him.

  3. Suhail—-thanks for the compliment. I agree with you—Srinath and defeatism are synonyms. Do you remember Srinath batting ? Rushing out for suicidal singles, blind swipes with the bat and the “king of all blunders”—dancing midpitch ‘thinking” he had hit a six and in the process costing India a match in the 92 World Cup.

    And then of course Srinath “supporting his shoulders” with his hands with the pain of the human condition writ large on his face—how can one forget such an image?

    Jabberwock—Now you put this in my head ! I shall replace Matthew with Diana and live through this nightmare. Hold it…it became even worse, Diana Hayden on top of Srinath in the middle of the pitch. And Srinath, rolling his shoulders with his hands and grumbling.

  4. Nice article! Not just deafist – Srinath will for me always be the bowler who DID NOT LEARN to pitch the bowl up. Short stuff it always was – perfect to belt around….

  5. And now he wants to teach!!!

  6. Nice article…Arnab..
    Thought provoking!!!

  7. SD–Short and wide. And then for variety—sliding down the leg side.

    I can still hear those words—

    “Srinath is striving for extra pace and is pitching it too short”

    “Excited by the overcast conditions, Srinath is pitching it short”

    “A loosener from Srinath”

    “Srinath taking some time to settle into a rhythm”

    Thank you Gandadhar

  8. hehehe

    true arnab. we had discussed this before in my house. He was making a scene as though he was an akram and india can not do with out him and he would make himself available for the WC.funny broguy.anyways dont know what would happen given his proximity to prince.he might indeed become the bowling coac.scrap me some time

  9. Actually Suhail, the man did win us one match that I recall: Ahmedabad Tst against SA, 1996-97 I believe? Took a six-for in the second innings, thrice on a hat-trick, blasting out SA for some 100-odd runs.

    Actually I always felt Srinath’s early career was stunted by that other great man for whom I have no respect — Kapil — and Srinath never grew out of that stunting.

    My thirty-seven paise on the subject.

  10. With due respect Sir, I have been reading through your cricket category for most of today (shows that I don’t have much work on my hands). Every post somehow seems to be a song in praise of Ganguly. I mean, in this very post – I started reading it with the thought that it was about Srinath and his shortcomings, but again – Ganguly fails to remain absent from your posts. you seem to be so obsessed with him. I have followed cricket for long and I am an ardent fan of Saurav Da. But can’t you think beyond him? Or is he the only fascination left for you? I simply hate regionalism and though a Keralite, I would advocate a ban for Sreesanth too, since I believe that he is equally irresponsible and unsporting as Bhajji. I wouldn’t take every available opportunity to compare how Sree is being targetted or was metted out harsh treatment (I know Sir that a comparison between Saurav and Sreesanth may not be anything remotely close to a comparison among equals, but I’m just doing it to emphasize your over-obsessiveness for Saurav)

  11. Srinath is too busy being an ICC referee to canvass for the job of a bowling coach.Srinath was the untiring workhorse of Indian cricket throughout the 90’s,even though his best years were robbed because a dinosaur named Kapil Dev refused to retire till he was swept for consecutive sixes by Phil Simmons.To blame him alone for Wc 2003 final debacle is slightly harsh when people like Ashish Nehra were lobbing slow full tosses for Ponting to hit over mid-wicket.Am a big fan of yours but really this time u have picked on the wrong person.

  12. Hey, why are ppl (including me :-)) commenting on this now although it was posted more than 3 years ago!! Is he trying again for the bowling coach or what ??

  13. well said Pranav, I was frantically going through this to find a comment like the one youve left
    first of all I doubt the source which says Srinath said fast bowling dept was orphaned and I think I somewhere read Ashish Nehra saying so
    if Srinath was a defeatist, why would Ganguly coax him out of retirement
    Srinath is not in dire need of a job as coach and he would never canvas for such a job
    his earlier captain ruined his younger days by not letting him take the new ball and his later captains ruined his rotator cuff by over using him
    still he had a great career and has every rights to comment about the younger lot who are just breaking down with injuries after one or two seasons
    remember how he used to pick up the wickets of left handed openers including the current Indian batting coach Kirsten?
    maybe people have a feel that theres no enough support for him so to say anything about him

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