The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Real pressure comes when you drift from present: Srinath

Johannesburg: At 33, Jawagal Srinath isnít getting any younger, yet he has rarely bowled better than in the last few months. The senior pro, unusually candid, spoke to The Telegraph the other morning.

The following are excerpts

Your thoughts, having competed in four successive World CupsÖ

Going back in time is like going back in history... Of course, Test cricket is the real stuff, but the World Cup is very special too... Iím glad I could go through four. More glad that Iíve been in the XI which beat Pakistan in all four editions.

Your first World Cup (1992)Ö

Personally, I was raw and, teamwise, I donít think we were prepared... Having already spent over three months in Australia, we were tired... By the time we realised what was happening, we were out of the tournament.

The next twoÖ

In 1996, the sole high point was ousting Pakistan in the quarter finals (Bangalore). Otherwise, though we made the semi-finals, I regard that campaign as a disaster... Indeed, 1999 was no better. Did we have the team to win in England' No... We made a lot of mistakes ó for instance, we shouldnít have lost to Zimbabwe in Leicester ó and paid heavily.

The pressure associated with a World CupÖ

At the international level, the pressure is the same... The World Cup is different in that itís not like a five or seven-match series... Clearly, you canít come back after losing a couple of games... For a team to be successful, in an event like the World Cup, mistakes must be at a minimum.

Presenting a rejuvenated look for the past few monthsÖ

(Laughs) Things havenít been bad... Last year, I was burned out in the West Indies... The workload coupled with the flat wickets took the sting out of me... In the past few months, specially, my experience has come in handy... Iíve been reading batsmen better and, then, Iíve been clear about the teamís requirements. One must compromise as one gets older and, even if Iíve lost pace, Iíve kept the right line and length.

Your quitting of Test cricket after the (Test) series in the West IndiesÖ

More than anybody else, I knew what I could and couldnít do... (After a pause) Looking back, the communication wasnít proper... There was, after all, a reason why I didnít wish to play... People should understand a fast bowler can get tired. Also, I didnít want a situation where I played simply to get selected. Whatís disappointing is that some people created the impression I was picking and choosing. That was incorrect ó in fact, if anybody does that, he is neither being fair on himself nor on the team. Bottomline is spacing your cricket, not choosing and picking... I felt let down by some people.

Whether you regret not going to EnglandÖ

Yes, I would have enjoyed that trip... Like Iíve said, the communication (on returning from the West Indies) wasnít proper... There was no assessment of my strength, nobody talked about the role I could have... I became an issue and the issue wasnít well handled.

Turning out for Leicestershire towards the end of the last county seasonÖ

If I had to stay in contention for this World Cup, I had to stay in shape. Thatís why I took up that end-of-season contract.

The dramatic return in the Champions Trophy final last SeptemberÖ

The captain (Sourav Ganguly), some of the seniors and even the selection committee chairman (Brijesh Patel) spoke to me and I decided on flying to Colombo after being clear about my role. Itís this interaction which made me return to Test cricket as well (home series against the West Indies). I wasnít looking for any favour from anybody, all I wanted was an honest appraisal of where I stood.

The pressure factor when you returned to Test cricket (in Mumbai)Ö

Look, the pressure is always there... I also couldnít stop people from talking.

Your 12 years of international cricketÖ

Ups, downs... Iíve seen everything... Iíve learnt... Where do I stand today' I will reassess everything after the World Cup but, as Iíve already told you, I donít have much cricket left. (Adds smiling) It would be great if I had the mind of a 33-year-old and the body of somebody 23.

Handling pressureÖ

Real pressure comes about when you drift away from the present... Itís more pronounced when you begin living in the past or start worrying about the future. Itís best to live in the present and look to giving that hundred per cent and more. Itís not possible to do better than that. Everybody wants to be a winner and, to be one, you need to be consistent.

Whether the downs left you frustratedÖ

No. Whenever Iíve failed, Iíve blamed myself... At the same time, whenever Iíve done well, Iíve never thought Iím indispensable.

Your comments on Ashish Nehra and Zaheer KhanÖ

Both are good, both are willing to listen... Itís not always easy listening to others because, at the end of the day, itís your mind and body... I pick out the few right things Iíve done in life and pass them on...

What has seen you through these 12 years'

My mental strength... Iíve never ever got carried away with success, never ever got bogged down because of failures. Iíve been honest with myself, with the team. Thatís the reason, perhaps, why I donít have regrets.

Whether in 1997, after the shoulder surgery, you feared your cricket would be over'

Did cross my mind, but nothing more... Now, at least, we have a full-time physio and physical trainer... Back in 1997, injuries werenít taken seriously and there was nobody to monitor either a problem or rehabilitation.

Your forthcoming tie-up with DurhamÖ

Things have progressed, but let the World Cup finish.

Whether you are indebted to anybody...

Itís a long list... Iím most thankful to my teammates, though. But for their confidence, I wouldnít have got to where I am.

Whether any one batsman has made you work harderÖ

Itís when you arenít bowling well that every batsman becomes a demon.

Finally, about your heroÖ

Imran Khan... His batting, bowling, captaincy... I was bowled over by everything. Of course, I admired Kapil Dev too.

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