Tuesday, November 11, 2003

End of an Era!

The most successful Indian pace bowler after Kapil Dev has retired!

Adios Srinath! It was a pleasure see you bowl and it was just as sad when you were not at your best. You made your debut when an aging horse was going after its last hurrah. And it now seems that the aging horse was so preoccupied with its efforts that it spent any extra energy making sure no colt, whatever the pedigree, was alive to give it some competition. While the other colts fell by the wayside, the fact that you kept up with your efforts speaks a lot of your dedication.

You played your first home test match and 13th overall in Mumbai almost three years after making your international debut. And it was perhaps YOUR Zanjeer and you had a Man of the match award with a half century and 5 wickets in the Test. I am sure you would have another 30 to 40 wickets to your credit if you had played more Test matches in your first few years in international cricket. Well, shortsighted selectors put the brakes on this but you never wavered. In terms of sheer numbers you are just as good as Abdul Qadir but the value that you added to a Indian attack was much more than Abdul Qadir's to a Pakistani attack that had, in different periods, bowlers like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram to shoulder the burden.

Experts say that good batsmen edge the ball much more than the novices who blindly swing their bat. Maybe the batsmen you bowled to were not good enough, as the umpteen deliveries that beat bat when you bowled, suggest. You are probably one of the most unlucky bowlers in the history of international cricket. In my opinion, your spell at Kolkota against the Pakistanis in 1999 was probably the best ever by an Indian fast bowler in test cricket. But it is also perhaps true that your going off the field after the 17th over probably let the Pakistanis off the hook. Azhar brought Ganguly to bowl and I have never been able to figure why! In the space of 10 overs, Moin Khan and Salim Malik had consolidated!

Towards the end of your reign, you made sure that the other young men making their way to the top had their job much easier than you had yours in the company of the aging hurricane. Thank you for helping to motivate and cultivate these young Turks who seem to have started to fill your huge shoes. Your presence in Australia would have done a world of good, because barring Kumble, you would have been the only frontline bowler with knowledge of way Australian pitches play and Ajit Agarkar faces stiff competition for his position.

But though we, as Indians, are as unreasonable as we can be with our cricketers, we do understand that you have had your good days and your injuries probably make you cringe every time you think about playing Down under. We however hope that you will be just as accessible to the youngsters in the team, as you were when you were in your position at mid on or mid off.

Thanks Srinath.. Thanks for everything!

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