As soon as Abhimanyu Mithun took a hat-trick on his Ranji debut, comparisons started with that other Karnataka fast bowler who did the same – Javagal Srinath. However, given the way things are with his career now – dropped after a not-so-bad debut series in Sri Lanka, and following that up with an unspectacular Ranji season – it’s unlikely he will have the same kind of impact.
Ability apart (Mithun so far hasn’t shown signs of bowling anywhere as fast as Srinath did), what might make a major difference in their respective careers is in terms of handling by the selectors and the team management.
One has to really give it to Azhar, Abbas Ali Baig (then the team manager) and whoever was in the selection committee back then for the way they managed Srinath’s early career.
Just take a look at his profile on statsguru: he didn’t take a 4-for until his ninth Test match. In his preceding eight Test matches, he had a bowling average of 46 (and he was dropped once – because the pitch at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth was supposed to take spin). And in the meantime, he had played a World Cup – having taken part in all matches that India played.
Of course he was dropped immediately after his 4-for to make way for a 3-man spin attack. But he was always kept in the squad, and Azhar made it clear to him that he would always play whenever India wanted to play 3 quick men (the first time ever that he was dropped for another fast bowler was perhaps in the finals of Singer Cup in Sri Lanka in 1994 when he made way for Venky Prasad).
Considering how much India chopped and changed with the support attack to Kapil and Prabhakar in the late 80’s it is indeed surprising the way they gave Srinath a long rope. And it paid off magnificently well, in the way he carried India’s bowling attack in the mid to late 90s.
Maybe it was because of his pace, and no one else was close to being as quick.
Compare that to the handling of Mithun. After playing a full series in Sri Lanka, on flat pitches and not bowling too badly, Mithun finds himself completely out of the picture. Not even the fifth best bowler, it seems. Given the way he has been handled, I won’t be surprised if he fades away.
Again, he is nowhere as quick as Srinath though he is reputed to have once been. My cousin Sandeep who knows the insides of Karnataka cricket tells me that Mithun had a back injury even before he made his first class debut, which perhaps explains the drop in place.
But it is perhaps the way he has been handled by the national selectors that would be responsible if his career were to fizzle (the same applies to other “bad drops”, also, though I must say that Murali Kartik has done quite well despite having been handled so shabbily).
PS: I expect a number of you to comment that he’s not that great a bowler. Simple reasons why I’ve used his case rather than anyone else is because he plays for the Ranji team I support, and he is fresh in my mind considering I’ve been watching him in the Ranji QF against MP today)