Originally Posted by watson
At first glance Zaheer Khan's stat's appear stronger than Srinath's. There is also the bonus that he is a left-armer which adds variety.
However, Srinith's playing years were 1991-2002. This is significant because it was really was a tough decade to play Test match cricket with some truly great players like Lara and Ponting approaching their peak. I don't think the cricket during the 90s was quite as tough as the 1980s, but it was pretty close to it. And yet Srinath was able to compete against the very best with distinction.
On the other hand, Zaheer Khan's playing years of 2000-2012 were not on the same plane as Srinath's. So the point being, I'd rather have a toughened bowler in my team who's been there and done that, and proven himself against the very best, than not.
You make some very good points.
I find it a bit difficult to compare Zaheer with Srinath although they were not so far apart and one saw both their careers in their entirety. For reasons that include some of what you have written.
I have always felt Srinath was overhyped and this made him try to bowl above himself. He was not a tear away fast bowler and his attempts to bowl as if he was one made him look like an idiot at times to any thinking viewer, Bowlers like Srinath, ( in Indian cricket post partition even his type have been so very rarethat they are to be cherished) need to bowl to their strengths and Srinaths strengths would have been best used if he had done just that. Something like what Zaheer learnt in England during his county stint after being dropped by India, and came back to the international side a completely different bowler. Zaheer bowled to the best of his abilities during his second innings with team India and this enabled him to become a far better weapon for India than he ever looked like he would be in his first innings.
Srinath did not make this transition. Of course he became more mature as he played longer but he did not have the transformation that one observed in Zaheer from an instinctive young fast bowler to a thinking professional who could be handed the responsibility of leading the attack and mentoring the younger crop in the latter part of his career.
Srinath started his career under the shadow of the mighty Kapil Dev. It prevented him from making the Indian team on a permanent basis for some time and when he did, Srinath was determined to show he was no slouch as compared to the great Kapil. I suspect this made him bowl faster and more aggressively during this early period. Maybe he would have bowled like that anyway. His speed got noticed and that he was much quicker than kapil had become by now but only the lay observers forgot the fact that Srinath was young while Kapil was at the fag end of a long career. Ib fact, had he not been such a good batsman as well, Kapil would have left the scene earlier and in the last year for that silly chase of Hadlee's record.
Of course, Kapil was slower than Srinath when they bowled together but how many people remember Kapil when he first came. He was at the higher end of fast medium bowlers and was always bowling within himself so that he could slip in the faster ball now and then that took the best in the world by surprise.
So, while the latter day Kapil was distinctly slower than the young and chaffing-at-the-bit Srinath, he was still superbly accurate. This showed up Srinath's wayward bowling. Srinath continued to attempt his bouncers and generally bowl a tad shorter than he should have to make best use of his sharply in coming main weapon. It was only towards the very end of his career, probably the last year, if I remember right, that he bowled the lengths he should have bowled all through. I remember talking to friends during the 2003 world cup, Srinath's last international performance and saying "Why didn't he bowl like this earlier in his career." His Test career had already ended by then.
This to me was the major plus for Zaheer that he learnt his lesson and came back a better bowler who bowled above his class. Srinath, despite being an engineer and, clearly a bright guy, continued to behave like an idiot with a ball in hand and bowled well below what he was capable of.
So who do we choose between them? I would pick neither in my ATG India side. For me Kapil, Nissar and Amar Singh would precede both of them so even if I wanted three pacers I wouldn't choose them. But to select between them is tougher because of what might have been ?
When I first responded to Kirkut's post on "why Zaheer isn't there" I was probably answering on behalf of everyone who voted Srinath in and Zaheer out of the mix. Asked directly, or even if I ask myself, it is a tougher choice than one thinks at the outset.
I will come back on this for I have to leave right away :o((
to be continued . . .