Is Srinath?s return a compromise?
Javagal Srinath has finally got what he wanted--- getting back into the Indian one-day side. And captain Sourav Ganguly has also achieved what he wanted---having Srinath back in the Test team.
Srinath has nodded in the affirmative to the idea of playing in the Tests starting against the West Indies in India next month. And the Indian team has agreed to include him in the playing eleven for the Champions Trophy final against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
"He is going to play (Tests) again," Ganguly said when asked whether the bowler was willing to make a Test return in the home series. "He has told (chief selector) Brijesh Patel, and he has told us," Ganguly told reporters as his squad prepared for the final.
It has been a bit fortuitous for the 32-year-old Srinath. If Nehra had not split the webbing of his bowling hand in the semi-final against South Africa, Srinath would not have got the call.
Srinath, India's second most successful Test fast bowler after Kapil Dev, abruptly retired from Test cricket in June at the end of the Caribbean tour. He said he wanted to play one-day internationals to be in contention for next year's World Cup in South Africa.
But the selectors ignored him for the current 12-team event, and Srinath opted for a short stint with English county Leicestershire to keep match-fit. His form for Leicestershire has impressed the Indian captain and the new selection committee alike.
Ganguly said: "I have always told him we need you to play Test matches. I think he has done fantastically well for Leicester."
But there are a few points to consider. How much of a role will Srinath have to play on the turning Premadasa track on Sunday? Sri Lankan pace bowlers---Chaminda Vaas and Pulasathi Gunaratne -- -sent down a total of nine overs between them in the semi-final against Australia Friday night. Spinners were introduced after just five overs and there was turn for them right from the start. Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee were utterly ineffective on the same ground.
So how much of an impact will Srinath make on the match?
Is it really worthwhile for him to be flying in especially from London for this one match when the team already has Ajit Agarkar in the reserves? Is he coming here all the way to bowl a mere five overs before the spinners will be introduced?
But it is not only about Sunday's final. The team management has long-term plans. Ganguly knows Srinath will not have much to do on Sunday. But since the opportunity had presented itself in the shape of an injury to a fast bowler, the team management decided to use it to get Srinath back into action.
Ganguly wants Srinath in the World Cup squad for South Africa. The Indian captain feels that the Karnataka paceman will have a big role to play on the fast and bouncy wickets of South Africa.
The recent change in the selection committee has also helped Srinath's cause. With Brijesh Patel heading the committee, Srinath's case has been given a patient hearing. Patel is amenable to the idea of having Srinath back for the one-dayers. The bowler – as part of a compromise – has agreed to play in the Tests.
Both parties are quite happy. But again the question is how much competitive cricket really remains in Srinath? That is vital for this idea to be successful over a long period of time. Ganguly does not seem to be too bothered about that as well. Srinath still has enough gas in bowling tank to last till the next World Cup. And that is what is important.