Praise from peers

THE SPORTSTAR spoke to some eminent members of the cricketing fraternity after Javagal Srinath's retirement.

VIJAY LOKAPALLY

THE SPORTSTAR spoke to some eminent members of the cricketing fraternity after Javagal Srinath's retirement. Here are their views:

Javagal Srinath with the legendary Kapil Dev. — Pic. V. V. KRISHNAN.-

Kapil Dev: He was a model for the younger generation. A very hard-working bowler who always wanted to bowl fast. I admired him for his determination and enthusiasm to bowl. To me, his greatest quality was his skill to go around the stumps and bowl to the left-handers. At times he was unplayable and I've seen some of the best batsmen struggling to face him. If only he could have pitched the ball up he would've finished with far more wickets against his name, at least 100 wickets more than what he had at the end of a glorious career.

Sachin Tendulkar: He's been a fantastic strike bowler and all of a sudden you realise he wouldn't be around with you on the field. We'll all miss him, his jokes, his spirit, his experience. The blend was perfect as Sri would combine speed and skill. He was brilliant in every manner. At one stage, he was genuinely fast, a top class bowler. After his surgery he was forced to compromise on pace. He was forced to change the length but he had the ability to get the ball to bounce from just short of length. I think the last season he pitched the ball up more than in the past. There was more movement in his deliveries. Earlier he would beat the bat but now he was getting far more edges. It showed he had read the situation best. Sri was a great guy to have. He would keep the dressing room alive with his sense of humour. I'll miss him as would the rest.

Anil Kumble: It'll be tough playing without Sri. I've played with him right through my career, from first-class to international cricket. We have spent time on and off the field, have been room-mates on so many tours. We were more like brothers actually. It's going to be difficult. It would've been great if he had made the tour to Australia. But then it was his decision to say good-bye and he knew his injury more than us. Sri was a great sight on the field, running in and bowling fast. I was fortunate that I didn't play against him at any level. Not much in the `nets' too. He was a top bowler but highly un<147,1,7>derestimated. He was different because he didn't throw tantrums on the field but his rating was higher among his opponents than some former players at home. I don't think Sri received the due he deserved as a great strike bowler. Maybe, he could've been a good batsman too because of his natural aggressive style. He lost it a bit in the last four-five years but I guess he preferred to be known as a bowler.

Mohammed Azharuddin: Sri was a great guy to have in the team. He was a captain's delight. A very hard-working bowler who did not get his due. His records don't reflect his potential. It should read much better. He was a loyal member of the team and served the game with outstanding achievements. He was bothered by a lot of injuries but he did well for himself. He had a lot of potential as a batsman. I remember he batted well in 1994 but somehow couldn't improve upon that. I wanted him to concentrate on his batting too but he was happy taking wickets. I saw an all-rounder in him and that would be my only complaint against Sri.

Srinath in the company of two of the contemporary giants in the Indian team, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar. — Pic. AP-

Rahul Dravid: At his peak, he was the quickest. A superb bowler to have in the side for all conditions. In the mid-90s, he had enough pace to rattle the best batsmen. He was consistent and that made him all the more dangerous. I thought he was the most under-rated even though the opposition had tremendous respect for Sri. They rated him very high. He came back to serve the team from two injuries and that is a tribute to his determination, desire and discipline. He was one of the most jovial members of the team and a great guy to have in the dressing room. He had the right values for life and cricket and was a great inspiration to the younger generation. He's the best judge of when to end his career and that's why I respect him.

Venkatesh Prasad: He was a fantastic mate. A terrific bowler with the right attitude. He read the game better than anyone in the team and was ready to share his knowledge with the juniormost member. He never looked at us as a competitor and I must say I gained the most by playing along with him. We shared rooms, had a lot of fights and arguments, but at the end of the day it was all forgotten. He never took things to heart. His quality to quickly acknowledge help from others was great. He had a great sense of humour. Not many understood him because he was quite unpredictable. I spoke to him the morning he retired and it was only in the evening I learnt of his decision to say good-bye to cricket. Sri is like that. Unpredictable. But he was a great bowler and a greater person. Very reliable and affable.

Roger Binny: He came across in a local tournament and I noticed he was quick. He impressed everyone with his speed and having come from a district I thought he had the potential to make it big. He made his way through hard work. I was the captain when he took a hat-trick on debut against Hyderabad. With the action he had, Sri would bowl inswing but then his action was his strength. Gradually he concentrated on line and length and became a very effective bowler. He improved his fielding with time and should've batted better than he did. I remember seeing him bat in the Ranji. He was brilliant. He could bat as well as any of us. Sri was an asset to Indian cricket. I wish him the best for his future.

Pravin Amre: Sri had a natural talent to bowl fast. He came from a district not known for cricket and yet rose to become the main bowler. I can never forget his spell at Cape Town. It was not a quick pitch but he bowled with fire. I remember another spell at Perth in a friendly one-day match. He finished the opposition even before the lights came on. Sri would always deliver when we needed him to. It was sad he had to sit out when he was quick in his early years. I know the team wanted him to continue but then Sri knew the best. He stopped when he was on top.

Vinod Kambli: He was a fine cricketer in every term. I haven't seen many as hard-working as Sri. His experience was a great asset to the team and he indeed did a great service to the team. The fact that he toiled on docile pitches in India reflected his attitude. He was a fighter and a great team man. I think the only time I played against him was in Duleep Trophy in 1993. It was a great experience. I got a century, which I value because it came against a quality attack with Sri in the forefront. We always looked up to him and his jovial approach would ease the tension in difficult situations. What I liked most about him was that he remained down to earth right through. Indian cricket will miss this great bowler.

Srinath's relationship with Karnataka pace mate Venkatesh Prasad was interesting. They had a lot of arguments, but, thankfully, there was no acrimony. — Pic. K. BHAGYA PRAKASH-

Salil Ankola: Sri will be surely missed. He was a great bowler and I can say that because I saw him from close. I would rate him one of the finest ever because of his consistency.

Aunshuman Gaekwad: I know how Sri used his experience and passed it on to the juniors. He was a great fighter, battling injuries and leading from the front. The fact that he played for so long speaks for his potential. I wish he had a longer stint. He had such a wonderful World Cup and had much more to offer. He was always hungry for wickets but I guess the injuries hampered his comeback. I shall remember Sri as a jovial cricketer, great bowler and a fantastic man to have around.

Narendra Hirwani: He was a top-class bowler. Ask me. It is great to bowl on Indian pitches if you are a spinner but Sri was a fast bowler and still he never compained. He lasted so long because he loved his cricket. He used to motivate us all. What I liked about him was his simplicity. He did not change at all and to this day has remained a very affable mate.

Batting great Rahul Dravid, yet another admirer of Srinath. - Pic. K. GOPINATHAN-

Mohinder Amarnath: A very fine bowler. A quick bowler and one you could feel proud of. He was one of the few genuine fast bowlers we had. Sad he didn't get many opportunities in his early years when he was bowling very quick. But that I guess made him all the more determined and in later years he became a complete fast bowler. He's done a great job for the country.

Brijesh Patel: Sri has been a performer at all levels and after Kapil (Dev) retired, he took over the burden very well. He's encouraged the other bowlers and has been a guide to them. I liked his quality to help the others. Sri has been a role model to others and with his education has been a very successful professional. I'm sure he'll get involved in some capacity with Indian cricket. I think he retired at a good time.

Maninder Singh: It was highly creditable of him to have been a fast bowler on Indian pitches. His fantastic record speaks for him. As a person, I thought he was always focussed on his job. A great bowler to have in the team.

Sandeep Patil: He was a gentle giant. His record speaks for him. He bowled with fire and was a great asset to the team. A pity I couldn't work more with him but on that England tour (in 1996) he did us proud with his great spells. He fashioned some grand victories for India and I appreciate his decision to retire at the right time.

Sanjeev Sharma: For any budding fast bowler, Sri was a role model. His style was most suited for Indian conditions and I know how hard he worked to keep himself fit. Injuries may have hampered him but Sri was a large-hearted bowler who never complained. He will be missed.