Javagal Srinath led the Indian pace attack for nearly a decade after the retirement of Kapil Dev. India may posses an able fast bowling battery across formats now, but during Srinath’s career they were far more dependent on the spinners to do the job.
Srinath said that the dependence was so high that he had to often ask the captain to be given the ball.
“I’m not complaining, but that’s the way the situation was. In India there were times when we used to play just one fast bowler. Sometimes we played just for the sake of playing a fast bowler. Wickets were absolute rank turners in the initial part of my career," Srinath told SportsKeeda.
Srinath made his ODI and Test debut in October and November 1991 respectively under the captaincy of Mohammed Azharuddin.
“You need to be a permanent part of the team and to be getting wickets all the time. Three spinners used to do 80 or 90 percent of the bowling, I would sometimes feel awkward like ‘what is my role here’. I used to go and ask the captain to hand me the ball, at least let me be satisfied for my inclusion for XI.
“That was the case. Indian conditions suit spinners better but at the same time it puts you on a faster thinking mode. So the reverse swing came handy but I never lost hope. I understand that winning is more important," Srinath added.
Srinath was almost a lone warrior for India in the fast bowling department for much of his career before Zaheer Khan cemented his place. The situation is in stark contrast to the present era where the likes of Japrit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are regulars for India in Tests while they also have equally capable back up fast bowlers in the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav.
“Spinners used to rule the roost those days; fast bowlers had little role to play but things have changed now. Today you have three fast bowlers operating before the spinners come on. Just like the traditional way of fetching wickets," said the ICC match referee.