Javagal Srinath (born 31 August 1969) was a Indian cricketer, and current ICC Match Referee. He is considered among India's finest fast bowlers and remains the only Indian fast bowler to have taken more than 300 wickets in ODIs. He was a front line fast bowler for the Indian cricket team until his retirement, being the second Indian pace bowler after Kapil Dev to take 200 Test wickets. One ball during the series against Australia in 1997/98 season measured 149.6 km/h (93.0 mph). He also clocked 149.6 km/hr at the 1999 World Cup.For bowling speed details of all the players in international cricket. Following South Africa's tour to India in late 1996, India traveled to South Africa where speed guns were in operation. That was the only series in Srinath's career where authentic speed gun readings were available before his career threatening rotator cuff injury of 1997. Srinath was recorded at 157 km/hr against Zimbabwe at Paarl on 27 January 1997. He took 44 wickets in the 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003 editions of Cricket World Cups. He is the joint highest wicket taker for India across World Cups, the other being Zaheer Khan who took same number of wickets in 2003, 2007 and 2011 editions. He has taken 8 wickets in second innings Kolkata February 1999 test match India vs Pakistan and he took 35 wickets against South Africa in 6 test matches in 1996-1997.
Srinath was a batsman as a youth, it was in a club match that he caught the eye of former Indian Test batsman Gundappa Viswanath, then a selector for the state team. In 1989/90, Srinath made his first class debut for Karnataka against Hyderabad, taking a hat trick in the first innings. He followed this with wickets off successive balls in the second innings. Srinath finished the season with 25 wickets from six matches, and took another 20 the following season. The second season involved a display of reverse swing against Maharashtra at the Nehru Stadium in Pune, taking 7/93 to dismiss the home team for 311 in response to a Karnataka total of 638 on a good batting track. Srinath made his ODI debut in the Wills Trophy at Sharjah in 1991. He is also India's most prolific wicket taker at World Cups with 44 wickets from 34 matches. He remains India's highest wicket taker in ODI matches as a fast bowler and only Indian pacer to surprass 300 wicket tally in ODI matches. Only other Indian bowler to achieve this feat is Anil Kumble who is a spinner. Srinath then was selected to the Indian cricket team for the 1991/92 tour of Australia. Making his Test debut against Australia at Brisbane, he took 3/59 while playing as the third pace bowler. He finished the tour with ten wickets at 55.30. He was given an opportunity to take the new ball against South Africa in Cape Town, where he took an economical 4/33 in 27 overs. Srinath ended the tour with 12 wickets at 26.08. However, due to wickets in India being conducive to spin, he subsequently spent seven consecutive home Tests watching from the sidelines as India only fielded two pacemen. It was not until three years after his international debut, in late 1994 and with the retirement of Kapil Dev that Srinath played his first home Test, against the West Indies. He took five wickets and scored 60 in the second innings to be named Man of the Match as India won by 96 runs. His increased opportunities also coincided with an improvement in his batting, scoring two half centuries in the series. Srinath took over 500 first class wickets, playing for Karnataka he took 96 at 24.06. In 1995, he joined Gloucestershire, and took 87 wickets in his one and only season with them including taking 9-76 against Glamorgan. He has also played English county cricket with Leicestershire and Durham. In the 1997/98 series vs Australia, Srinath's with one particular delivery measured at 149.6 km/h. The then Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell revealed that Srinath was recorded at 157 km/hr on 27 January 1997 in the game at Paarl between India and Zimbabwe. He said about this game. "We then moved on to our second game against India, at Boland Bank Park. In all 236 was quite a decent score, as it wasn't the easiest of pitches to bat on, and Srinath I think bowled the quickest that any of our guys had ever seen. He bowled a really quick spell early on, even quicker than Allan Donald; he was timed at 157 km/h, a good 10 km/h faster than Donald was bowling throughout the tournament. Grant Flower was hit on the thigh pad, and when he came off he said he thought he had broken his leg. Alistair Campbell's was another testimony from a person who also faced Lance Klusener and Alan Donald at their peak, along with Srinath and found Srinath to be quicker. Alistair Campbell and Grant Flower had also faced Waqar Younis at his peak, and Wasim Akram and the Pakistani pace battery before this. They had in fact played a full 3 Test series in January 1995, when they had won their first Test match, thrashing Pakistan by an innings and 64 runs and scoring 544/4 declared in their only innings. But even they said that they had never faced anyone as quick as Srinath.
Srinath's fastest ball recorded was thus not even 156 km/hr. It was even faster at 157 km/hr. For many years, Srinath was India's only regular pace bowler, and the workload is often believed to be the partial cause of injuries, which forced him to undergo an operation on his right shoulder in 1997. His rotator cuff injury diagnosed in March 1997 kept him away from cricket till November 1997. Until that time, he was a real express bowler. This injury was very serious ''caused due to overload of bowling'' and Srinath at that time had 92 Test wickets from 27 Tests only 46 in his first 18 Tests, but 46 in his last 9 games. It was wondered if Srinath would ever be able to bowl again, let alone be ranked among the fastest bowlers in the world. After he announced his retirement in Nov 2003, Srinath revealed that he feared his career was over when he was trying to recover from the rotator cuff injury. The desperation and seriousness of that injury can be seen from this article of September 1997 in weekly India Today. The below article dated 5 Sept 1997 also reveals that Srinath was a real express bowler before that injury. None other than Australia legendary quick Denis Lillee called him 'a genuine fast bowler''. Some critics argue that Srinath's average and strike rate suffered as a result of bowling on the predominantly dry and spin friendly wickets in India; however, his average at home was in fact superior to his average away from India. Srinath knew how to reverse swing the ball. Srinath counts among the few fighter cum gentlemen in Indian cricket in the same league as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and Robin Singh. Among his best friends was former teammate Anil Kumble. Srinath and Kumble got married on the same day. When Kumble was looking to take his tenth wicket in the India Pakistan test in 1999, Srinath, who was bowling from the other end, was trying to bowl way outside the off stump to avoid taking the final wicket in order for Kumble to get to the record. Anil Kumble always gives full credit to him for his perfect 10 against Pakistan as Srinath bowled consecutive wide balls in test match to avoid taking wicket. After Kapil Dev, he led the Indian fast bowling attack for over 12 years. He was the 2nd bowler after Kapil Dev who took 200 wickets in Test Cricket and with his 236 test wickets; he is among the top wicket takers. He is also the India's 2nd highest ODI wicket taker with his 315 ODI wickets overall (2nd only to Anil Kumble's 337 wickets overall) and the first one to take 300 ODI wickets for India. He was the fastest 100 wicket taker in ODI. He is highest wicket taker in World Cup ''44 wickets'' for India, a record that he shares with Zaheer Khan. Who can forget his destructive spell of 6/21 against South Africa in 1996, which not only saved India's certain defeat but bagged the victory as well.
Match referee ODI and T20:
Srinath retired from international cricket after the 2003 World Cup in South Africa in which he performed strongly until the final against Australia, when he conceded 87 off his 10 overs in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. But till the semi final 2003 World Cup his bowling average was 17.62 with an economy of 3.48. Srinath had a good spell in the previous two matches. He conceded just 20 runs in 8 overs with economy 2.50 against New Zealand and just 11 runs in 7 overs with economy 1.57 against Kenya in 2003 World Cup semi final. When Srinath retired from the international cricket he was in 8th place in the ICC Player Rankings bowlers with rating 701 points.
Srinath toured England with the famous Lashings World XI team in the summer of 2005 and also served as a commentator for the India England Test series in 2006. Once in an interview, 1992 World cup winning Pakistan captain Imran Khan said, after watching him bowl 150 km/h speed on Indian pitches, that Srinath is the most grossly underrated bowler in the world. It was Courtney Walsh who recommended Srinath to the county when he got injured and was asked to recommend someone. Srinath is still a familiar face to cricket viewers across the world. He has become a reputed commentator and is also an ICC match referee. In 2010, he and his former team mate, Anil Kumble, ushered in the winds of change to Indian cricket administration by fighting the Karnataka State Cricket Association elections.They won by huge margins and today, Srinath as the secretary of the Association, charts the destinies of upcoming young cricketers.
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