Javagal Srinath: “His Cricket Career and the Future of Technology in Sports” | Talks at Google

[? Akshay. ?] Welcome to another session
of Talks at Google. Our guest today, in
case you didn’t know, is the legendary Indian pace
bowler and the current ICC match referee Javagal Srinath. He started his career
Indian cricket in the 90s and retired about 13
years later in the 2000s. So you’ve obviously,
hopefully, rather, watched him and his skill on TV. And he’s here to share some
of those stories with us. He is, incidentally, the only
Indian fast bowler and the only other– so there’s two of them– in India who have taken more
than 300 one-day wickets. And he’s also the joint
highest wicket taker for India in World Cups at 44. He retired from cricket,
like I said, in 2003. And he has continued his life
in that world as an ICC match referee. So please, help me in
welcoming Mr. Javagal Srinath. [APPLAUSE] It’s an honor, sir,
to have you here. As you can see, there are many
of your fans in the room today, and many others will watch
this on YouTube at some point. So from all of us, thank
you for joining us today. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Pleasure. SPEAKER 1: You have been
in the Bay Area before. You have some family here. What’s your best
part about this area? Which area do you like the most? Some interesting
memories from here? JAVAGAL SRINATH: See, most of
it is like typical middle-class family coming from
India, and especially coming from
Bangalore and Mysore. We all want to become engineers. We all want to come to US. I think that’s– [LAUGHING] I’m speaking on behalf of
you all here, actually. And that’s a dream for many. But then, you know,
you’ve got to be 80%, 90%. Medical, you know, a
percentage [INAUDIBLE].. So I could not come– on this percentage
basis, I could not– [INAUDIBLE] percentage basis,
I could not come to India. Then the other option I
thought was, you know, play cricket and know
the right kind of people here so you get to Google. [LAUGHTER] I’ve been here a few times, yes. I also tried to get
into Stanford in 2003 after I finished my
cricketing career. So, in fact, I
made some inroads, and then I think there were
sensible professors who were talking to me. And then they said,
look, you know, do you want to give all your
cricketing credentials back and then get into the
software industry at this age? It’ll be– you know, look,
it will be a regression. It will be going back
in time if you do that. So it’s better, you know, you
start something on your own. So I was here for
almost a week, more than a week I think,
trying to understand whether I fit into this. I don’t know whether I
did the right decision, but, you know, I had to. Then I was convinced. I was convinced– they
convinced me, rather– that, you know,
that might not be. Or maybe they found out
that I was not too good and I would never pass
the MBA in Stanford. Even that could be possible. However, yeah, so I
just have a degree that’s an engineering degree. SPEAKER 1: So you are
now an ICC match referee. What else are you doing? Are you in involved in
the technical space? JAVAGAL SRINATH: Not
really, but my involvement with the technical space
is because of my friends whom I tag along with. We have a group of few friends. You know, we are very much
in touch with each other. One of them is sitting here. He has moved to Google now
from India, [? Mohandas. ?] So even though you don’t know
much about technical stuff, if you have technical
people around you, it’s as good as
the same, I think. I mean, you are as good
as a good engineer. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: So now
you mentioned you use a lot of Google products. Do you have a favorite one
that you use more than others? JAVAGAL SRINATH: I think the
best application is your Google search. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. JAVAGAL SRINATH: For
anything and everything, I think we go for Google. I think it has become such an
integral part of our lives. But, you know, that
reach is fantastic. I mean, you don’t have to
worry too much no matter what. I mean, I have a
15-year-old son, I’ve got to teach
him a lot these days. So, you know, the
linear equation, the quadratic equations,
which I didn’t know then. [LAUGHTER] Before Google could come up– I mean, before
Google could come up, I used to log into Mohandas
dot com, who is sitting here. But now I think now I
would have upgraded myself and I would go to Google
and check most of it, so you get all the
answers and stuff. SPEAKER 1: So a lot
of these people here work on many of the products
that a lot of us use. If you have any positive
or negative feedback, this is a good time
to let them know. And then hopefully they
can implement the features you’re looking for. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Nothing
negative, I suppose. In any walk of
life, I think it is that we pursue our technology. You know, we follow technology. And what technology
is today will not be the same in the
next 5, 10 years. So, you know, there is
nothing called completeness in technology, I believe. You’ve got to keep following. You’ve got to keep
researching as you people do, and you will end up
probably doing new products and getting on to new
technology in the future. So, you know, if you really see
what was happening 20 years ago and what technology we live
in, completely different. I mean, people
pursue technology, and you people change and
evolve and new things come up. So there’s no negative as such. The successful of the
product, or the popularity of the product, not
necessarily mean success. Are they widely used? Yes. Well, is this success? Could be a success
in one dimension. But I think that
will have an end and then there’s a new product,
there’s a new technology, and you move on. So I don’t see
anything negative. I think Google is a wonderful
present to the whole world. I mean, everything
runs on Google. Today, if you switch
off to Google, the traffic in the world stands. I mean, it would
come to a standstill. Many things, I mean, Google
search, if there’s no search, Google search, again,
people will struggle. So we are dependent on Google. So what you people do
matters to us at every level. So thank you for that. SPEAKER 1: So let’s
talk about cricket, switch gears a little bit. And start from the
very beginning. How did you get into
cricket is one thing, but when did you realize
that you had the talent to play for the country? JAVAGAL SRINATH: When I
didn’t get marks in the exam. [LAUGHING] [APPLAUSE] Then I realized I think
cricket will be better bet. Look, you know, two things–
passion and your profession. Passion and hobby
comes in the same line, and profession is another one. Now for profession, you
know, you have to study. You’ve got to get marks. You’ve got to be in
that rat race in India. It’s quite tough. You’ve got to be intelligent. You’re IQ should be
more, and all of it. Not all of them– all of us–
are gifted with the same, barring you people sitting here. Cricket was a passion for me. But some or the other,
I got into engineering. Now seriously why I
got into engineering, because that was the
trend going on those days. You know, there is
a social status. There is something
about being an engineer. Not that I wanted to achieve
anything becoming an engineer. So you are seen in a
different light altogether. And that’s exactly
my understanding, let me be honest. I got into engineering. Of course, it was not
a straightforward seat. In My parents had to
pull in some money and give some donations
and put me into the seat because I never got
a seat automatic. So I promised them that, you
know, I will finish my degree, and I will do well. But cricket came alongside
and I was doing decently well, reasonably well. You know, played for
Karnataka under 23s, and then I played for
Karnataka juniors. So my idea was that, if I had
a present Karnataka state, I can fail in four subjects. [LAUGHTER] So it’s some amount of
justification within. Whenever I didn’t
do well in studies, I said, well, it is
the cricket which is really coming in
the way and I had to spend more cricket there. And so whenever I
didn’t get wickets, I used to say it’s
because of my engineering. [LAUGHTER] We managed this lie
somehow nicely in life. So that’s how we
managed, and I managed. But I always had one
thing in my mind, that you’ve got to have a
degree in India no matter what. I think for the
level of acceptance, you’ve got to have a degree. Without a degree, you
struggle in India. The first thing, if you really
see anybody who you meet in India is
{?_{?_[SPEAKING HINDI]._?}._?} So that’s the basic question
that you need to answer. The moment you say that
you don’t have a degree, then they do– straight away
they look down upon you. I mean, that’s the
Indian way of– in a way, that’s a
motivation for us to at least have a degree. Anyway back to this. So I managed somehow,
and, you know, slowly I realized that my
cricket was coming good. And then I probably
spent more time. But I never thought that my
cricket would be my profession. Even today, I will
never advocate in India that sport can be a profession. The economy doesn’t
support that. You’ve got to have a strong
economy otherwise for you to fall back on sport
as a profession. So once you finish your
profession, whether you make it to India or whatever
it is, you should still make a decent living. That you cannot do in India
when you risk your education and then take up sport. But anyway I was
employed in Vijaya Bank, in a bank called Vijaya
Bank you all know. They came in in my third year. So been when I was
a bonafide student, I was already earning
money, which is not legal. But nobody knew that I was
employed with the bank. So I was able to manage both. That came in as a
bit of a support because I lost a year
when I was in third year. Semester became very
difficult for me. The semester scheme
was a little tough, because every six months
you used to have exams. Our college,
[? SJCE ?] in Mysore, stood by me like a rock. You know, they could change
exams and stuff and all of it. Then I lost a year. But some amount of justification
that, you know, worst case, I will be a bank clerk. From then on, I progressed
and then I became a– I played for India. And then gradually I became
an officer in the bank. And those days, being an officer
in the bank was the thing. And it was quite a
decent job perhaps. Still, I wasn’t
very clear will this be my career for the
next 15, 20 years. Slowly I think I got
to terms with this game and understood what is
required to stay here for the next few years. And as time went
by, I got the gist of how to make this
a profession, a hobby into a profession, probably the
best thing that could happen to anybody, and stuck to it. And I had an injury in ’96 and
then I had four subjects to go. And in 1996, I went back
to the college, stood in front of my
lecturers, and then I pleaded saying that
I need 35 marks to pass so that I get a degree. And then some of them
were really good. I mean, they took
some special classes, and I am indebted to them
for life, actually, for that. And they did a
wonderful job, and I was able to pass
those four subjects and I got my degree in 1997. SPEAKER 1: Indian
pictures in the ’90s were not known to help
people like yourself who were into the art of pace bowling. You were probably more
successful in India than overseas. Did you realize early on? And how did you adapt
to those conditions? JAVAGAL SRINATH: Yeah, you
know, it was quite hard to bowl on Indian pitches. But, you know, you
start adding more when the situation is very adverse. You know, you start to
believe in reverse swing. You try to move the ball more. It also adds pressure
on your career. So that’s in a way
good at the right time. So that always keeps
you on your toes. What happens when you
are under pressure? You are trying to do your best. You are trying to learn a lot. You’re spending more
time in the nets. I think that’s what
my [? PS ?] saw in me, to hold onto me on the
side for the next three, four years. So I think an attitude which
was good in many sense. I think I was also a little
insecure to start with but realized that that
pressure, when things are not at your best, when you
have three spinners playing in a team. And then I’ve been
picked because I’m more of a symbolic fastballer
to be part of the side. Now, being a part
of the team, I mean, you’ve got to contribute
to some extent, you know? You’ve got to try. Even if you don’t get
a wicket, but you’ve got to bowl those
15, 20 overs to make myself believe that
I’m part of this team instead of just standing
there doing nothing for hours together. Maybe that was–
subconsciously, I was doing such things
without my own knowledge and that was recognized,
and that helped me to learn a few things. So adverse conditions
also gives you a chance to look for some kind
of growth within ourselves. SPEAKER 1: I want
to talk briefly about the injury you
mentioned in ’96. You had a rotator cuff tear. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Yeah. SPEAKER 1: I
remember watching, I believe it was a test
series against South Africa. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Correct. SPEAKER 1: And I remember
clearly watching you sort of rubbing your shoulder. You would throw the ball
underarm from the fence. Clearly you were in pain. Why did you continue playing? And why not just stop and
attend to your injury? JAVAGAL SRINATH: The
assessment of an injury is always a challenging one. You want to bowl as
much as possible. You want to kind of bowl the
last ball and then kind of come to terms that you are injured. I mean, that’s probably
the way any sportsman would want to see. Even if you can bowl an over,
you don’t want to stop it. You want to finish that over. But this injury was
so unique that when the body is warmed up, when my
shoulder is nicely warmed up, you could bowl more and more. But once you stop, the
damage would happen then. Basically, the ball was
coming out of the socket, and there was frays. And there is something
called labrum cartilage here at the socket. And that plastic
thing which holds the ball in the socket, that
had almost, you know, worn out. So finally I realized that
I couldn’t even lift my arm. And that was the
time I realized, I need to go and see a doctor. So I went to South Africa
to one of the doctors in Rosebank Clinic. And they have the best
facilities, in fact. They said that you
need an operation. So I tried for a conservative
method for three years– for three months. Didn’t help. So then the only option I had
was to go under the knife. So I went under the knife. Then again, rehabilitation
and all of this for another six months. Now, the honest opinion I got
from the doctor also helped me. And they said you will probably
lose 15% of your efficiency. But if you are very
keen and if you go through the
rehabilitation and the field therapy and the
strengthening process nicely, then probably you
might get that 10% too. So you might probably lose 5%. That’s meaning nothing. You lose nothing. And thank god it
took six months. It got my degree back
in six months time. I also got my hand back so– [LAUGHTER] It was a– challenging
times, yeah. It was really challenging times. SPEAKER 1: Now I know– I remember reading interviews
of yours back then. And you mentioned that
you were worried this was a career-ending injury for you. Obviously, you recovered. You spent many more years
playing for the country. What did you learn from this? How did you keep
yourself going through? And now, that you look
back, obviously the injury is a fairly minor
episode in your life because you’ve come through it. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Yeah,
I think it was a– it’s a lifetime
experience I would say. I mean, it is– if I probably
speak on your behalf, it is just that, you
know, your mind tomorrow doesn’t work for Google or
for any software technology from tomorrow. That’s it, there
is nothing that you can do as far as
technology is concerned. What do you do? How do you manage? I mean, these things
do cross my mind. I mean, it’s not that
I can’t play for India. I can never play cricket
if things don’t go right. I can never bowl
again in my life. Now, can I become a backsman? Can I– what do I do? Then I have– I was 26, I had another 34
years of career ahead of me. Now should I really come back
and then start my engineering at that stage where I was
anyway lagging quite behind? Well, I mean, I could
have probably done that. I would have been
sitting somewhere here listening to somebody else. I don’t know whether
[? Mohandas ?] will approve this. Anyway, so that crossed my mind. But it’s good to go through
such experiences in life. It gives you– makes
you more philosophical. You will be fatalistic in
your thinking at times. Then you realize
that cricket is not the only thing in your life. Then probably my focus
on the other side of life also grew a bit. Then I realized that if it
happens at the age of 26, I need to manage
the next 34 years. It can happen at the age of 35. Even when I finish my
cricket at the age of 35, what do I do for
the next 25 years? So all those thoughts
started coming into my mind. But I think a lot
of belief in God– all of a sudden, you become
spiritual to some extent. Not the spirits, I
didn’t go that way. [LAUGHTER] Then I think you kind
of meet the right kind of people during that period. And I think when we get to
such situations in life, and if you honestly, genuinely
want to come back into sport, or you want to do good, I think
you– if you have that mindset, then you’ll probably approach
the right kind of people. And I met some wonderful
people during that period, started talking to them. I mean you believe that
somebody is better than you. Somebody’s advice can help you. I think we need to have
such mentors in life. We’ve got to believe
in such people. It’s just not that, you know,
I’m the be all end all of life. You know, there
are a lot of people who have more experience. They do not have
to play cricket. They do not have to
take 200 wickets. But I think people
with knowledge, and the way they see life,
I went in search of them. I mean, some of them
I could speak to. Again, they gave me
some valuable advice to be steady, stable,
finish your degree first. Those such advices were
crucial, gave me confidence that when I have a degree, I
can manage life from now on. Such advices came in very
handy at that point in time. At the same time,
managing an injury, it was a wonderful
experience, too. You know, your commitment to
rehabilitation, your commitment to strength training. Then that measured approach
towards bowling again. You know, you cannot
be bowling more, nor you can be bowling less. So that fine balance what you
achieve in trying to come back brought all those
good values in me. So I realized fine
balancing is all about life. SPEAKER 1: You know, you hear
many stories about Indian sport legends who their parents
don’t always support them because a career in sports, like
you said, is not really a thing that was relied upon in India. But everyone always has
some person in their life who supports them through their
growing phases into the sport. Did you have anybody like
that who helped you through, you know, playing for your
college, playing for the state? JAVAGAL SRINATH: A lot
of people make mistakes in looking for such people. I mean, you search people
for the wrong reasons, I think you end up
in the wrong place. Never, ever in my life that I
wanted to go and meet somebody that who will give me an undue
advantage in my own profession. I think if you are looking at
people for the right reasons– it could be your career,
discussion about your career path. It could be about an honest
opinion about my own cricket, a very brutal– somebody who could do a brutal
assessment about my own career. Those are the people who we
need to go and look up to. If you start looking at– looking up to such people,
they are your true mentors. But if I really– I never had– I mean, I have
seen some of my own colleagues meeting the wrong kind of
people for wrong support. And they might appear to be
the demigods at that time. They might be looking
like godfathers for you at that point in time,
but they are not actually. I think they can lead you to
the wrong side of the life. I never had anybody, but I
think of Mr. CS Subramanian, one of our club secretaries
back in Mysore, I think he was a wonderful
person, a great human being who instilled a lot of values in us,
who always said that education is the one which gives
you solid security for you to think and play the
sport without any doubts. And he always said, you know,
if you want to be analytical, you’ve got to have
education by your side. To think better in life is where
education comes to your rescue and not for anything else. It is just not about earning
salaries or managing money. But I think for you to think
better, you need education. So whether you are– whatever you become
in life, I think education has to be the base. So such things not
said in these words what I said, but I think that’s
exactly how he guided us. Of course, my parents
were wonderful. I mean, they were
always supportive of me in whatever I
do, whatever I did. So that was also,
you know, something which I was probably lucky. SPEAKER 1: So you formed a
great bowling partnership with Venkatesh Prasad. And I’ve certainly
enjoyed many of those matches that you played. What was your relationship
like with him? And what was it like working
with him over all those years and all those matches? JAVAGAL SRINATH: Bad and good. [LAUGHTER] He was one of the biggest
critic of mine, actually. He always used to– I still remember
in one of the games where we were playing in
Kanpur and then he was dropped. So there were three
spinners and myself. And we kind of– I got a wicket, and I was
standing at the fine leg. And I asked for some water, you
know, so he was the 12th man. And then he used to
walk very slowly. [LAUGHTER] He used to walk very
slowly up to me. And then he stood next to me. And then I said, did
you see the replay? He said, yes. Then I said, what? He said, missing down the
leg side by four stumps. [LAUGHTER] And he said, you are a lucky
bowler, do you know that? That wasn’t out. And the first one, the
umpiring is so horrible. [LAUGHTER] So that was the
motivation I got from him. And, you know, there
was a camera next to us. And then when the camera
is focusing on us, there is a red light
which comes on. So the moment that
camera came on, then he was patting my back. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] We shared a great
relationship with each other. And then I used to tease him
that you’ve got to bowl fast. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] So we had a very
healthy relationship, and we had a good laugh. And we shared most
of the– you know, our backdrop was
very similar in life. So we kind of shared the
same food and the same taste, most of it. So, you know, we had a
great time, of course. He is a good gentleman, and
we thoroughly enjoyed his– I thoroughly
enjoyed his company. SPEAKER 1: Which has been your
favorite ground to play on? JAVAGAL SRINATH: See,
when you win a match, I think irrespective
of all the states– [LAUGHTER] You have got wickets in
that particular match, and you will always– it is hard
to say that’s not my favorite. But I think Centurian Park
in Pretoria, South Africa, was one of the best grounds. But now all grounds have
really come up nicely. I mean, MCG is a
fabulous ground. If you see– the Melbourne
Cricket Ground is beautiful. I mean, if you see,
Lord’s has its own charm. [? Surrey ?] Oval is beautiful. Our own Calcutta Eden
Gardens is wonderful. Many, I would say. And, of course, our
[? Bangalore ?] is also pretty cute, I would say. SPEAKER 1: So you’ve played
with some really big names in world cricket. I want to ask you about
three specific people. So I’ll give you a name, and
if you can give us a story, or a memory, or
something like that. First up, Kapil Dev. JAVAGAL SRINATH: I
think he was my mentor. I kind of grew up watching him
and learned a lot from him. I think we have shared
various stages of relationship with him. As I said, he was my demigod. I emulated him. Then we started
playing together. Then we have kind of
challenged each other. I think that’s the beauty
of this life, isn’t it? I mean, somebody– I’m talking about ’83 when
I thought he was my god. And then you start
playing with him. And then in three years’ time,
you kind of challenge him as well in many ways. You know, when you
work in the same space and then when you’re working
for a common objective, the way he wants to achieve
it, the way I want to do it, are two different things. Our strengths were different. I mean, his talent, his natural
ability, was unbelievable. He was next to none. In fact, he was too good. At the same time, you
know, sometimes what I feel is that when somebody is great,
he should also have the ability to impart that
knowledge to somebody and then take him up
to the next level. I believe leaders are like that. I mean, leaders are
somebody who create leaders. So I was expecting
a lot from him. So it’s not that
he didn’t do it. Maybe I was not smart
enough to pick up points from him as well. So, you know, there
was a bit of– it was quite challenging on me
to understand what he speaks and what he says. Coaching is never easy. It’s not all that easy to
pick up points and then implement it on yourself when
motor learning skills are not that sharp. Changes in human body,
especially the bowling action changes and all, will
take ages, three to four years. So it is easy to say
something, but it is not that easy to really
assimilate it into your cells and then reproduce it. So it takes a while for
all of us to do that. But I think with Kapil
Dev, I learned a lot. I still feel that I
should have learned a lot. And I also believe that he
should have taught me a lot. I think all of it. I think I would say all of it. Great experience
with him, actually. I have seen Kapil
as an [INAUDIBLE].. I have seen him as a
senior in the team. And we have competed
for the same wickets on either sides of the pitch. It’s a wonderful experience. I still have a lot
of regards for him. SPEAKER 1: Sachin Tendulkar. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Genius. Unbelievable talent. A little bit of a difficult
personality to understand him. But once you get to
know the card of Sachin, I think he’s a good human
being, represents typically the middle class,
middle class system. And I’m really happy
that I got a chance to play alongside with him. Again, it was not
easy to deal with him when we played together. Kapil was– sorry,
Sachin was too demanding. I mean, that also shows
his passion for the game. I mean, he was somebody
who could do anything, beat with the ball or with the bat. He could do anything,
which we could not. Lesser mortals could
not do what he– repeat what he did. So he was quite demanding. But I think little
later, he changed. He was a much evolved
captain, much better captain. You know, I still have a
good relationship with him. We have a good laugh. We miss him on the
field, but that’s what cricket is all
about, life is all about, that everybody has to move on. I really enjoyed watching
him, play alongside with him. SPEAKER 1: And, last but
not least, a good friend of yours, Anil Kumble. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Good
friend, doesn’t say much, doesn’t say much. A man of few words, but
an actual gentleman. You know, somebody very
strong deep inside, very resolute in his
nature, highly determined. For some– whatever
the limitations that anybody could have,
but to achieve maximum, I think he’s the standing
example for that. Man of high integrity. And I would say one of the
best friends I have around in the cricketing circles. So we share a lot. We did a good stint with
the Karnataka State Cricket Association. We came for the right reasons,
to defend our association. For three years, we
did it successfully. I enjoyed working with him. A lot of similarities
in the way we think. That helps us quite a bit. And we understand
each other better. SPEAKER 1: How– by
the way, how did he– JAVAGAL SRINATH: Is Rahul
Dravid not part of that list? [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: Let’s talk
about Rahul Dravid. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Which
state do come from? SPEAKER 1: Maharashtra. JAVAGAL SRINATH: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER 1: Well that’s why I
said Tendulkar on the list, see? Let’s talk about Rahul. JAVAGAL SRINATH: I will
tell Rahul Dravid that you missed out on the list. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Let’s talk
about Rahul Dravid. He’s– JAVAGAL SRINATH: I think
[? he’s a Buddhist. ?] [LAUGHTER] We’ll move on, we’ll
move on, that’s OK. SPEAKER 1: All right. So how did Anil Kumble
get the name Jumbo? You always heard– JAVAGAL SRINATH: Sidhu
named him Jumbo, actually. Because, you know,
at one stage he was like taking off like a jump
you know, from ’93 to ’96, ’97, I mean, he was
unplayable in India. He got his hundredth
wicket within no time, and he was winning matches. So Sidhu named him as Jumbo. SPEAKER 1: So, speaking of
Jumbo, India versus Pakistan ’99, Pakistan nine wickets down. You were bowling further,
and you tried really hard to bowl wides, and,
in fact, you bowled a couple of real wides, which
is hard in test cricket. But– [LAUGHTER] –just to help your friend
out, now [INAUDIBLE] was batting there, and he
hits the ball in the air. You see Sadogoppan Ramesh
running after it really fast. He made no attempt to
not take the catch. He actually tried. What was going
through your mind? JAVAGAL SRINATH: You see,
history is being created. So how do I be part of that
history by not taking– [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] And that one wicket is not going
to make any difference to me at all. If I had taken
that wicket, nobody would have spoken about it. You would not have asked
that question today. No, I think it was a
conscious decision. And then the way
Anil was bowling that he was looking as if he was
going to get wicket every ball. So I think it was anybody’s
duty to make sure that– not to take any
wicket for that moment and enable him to
get that wicket. So I think he finished off
the match within no time. And I think that’s the way
you kind of help somebody to create records and stuff. That was 10 wickets
in a match is no joke. That was a fabulous performance. SPEAKER 1: One of
my fondest memories, and I know some other people
share this opinion as well of your career, is of your
batting with Anil Kumble against Australia. You had a 52-run partnership. I still remember that
match you came out, you swung the bat a few
times, you missed a few balls. And Anil walked down and
said a few things to you, and then you seemed to settle
down, and you hit a few sixes. What was the conversation– JAVAGAL SRINATH: I
was in good form. I was teaching Anil how to bat. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] No, it was just a chat, I think. I don’t remember every
word that we spoke. It was one of those
matches, you know, where everything fell in place,
and we won a wonderful match from nowhere. I don’t know why that
match has been recognized and then people talk
about it quite a lot. Maybe we were so
hopeless down the order that we could not
win any matches. And then one of
our matches which we won I think that got
stuck in the minds of people. And even now people
talk about it. Yeah, that was one
of the good wins. And that, too, it happened
in Bangalore, my hometown, so it added more
value, I suppose. SPEAKER 1: You did exceptionally
well in World Cups for India. Is there something about
that stage that brings out– at least in you, that
brought out a different side? Or was that just
another match for you? JAVAGAL SRINATH: Except the
finals of the World Cup, yeah. Yeah, I think your awareness
levels rise quite a bit. You want to do well. And then there is
so much of hype. And that the whole nation
starts pushing you towards it. I think every
nation will do that, but in India, it
is a little more. Because of the
numbers, what we have, and the following
of what we have, that also puts a
bit of pressure, which is good, I feel,
and also nice to have that kind of support. Yeah, I mean, four World Cups. I think we had a couple
of ordinary World Cups, but twice I think we
were really there. We couldn’t make
it to the finals. We were up against
a wonderful team, which was unbeatable then. I mean, they were really– Australia was probably
the best team, and there was no other
way to beat them. It’s a cycle, you see. I mean Australia now,
if you see Australia, I think India is
probably doing so well. You know, Australia is not
a team what it used to be. So we got caught in that
particular zone where they were really good, and we
couldn’t do much in the finals. SPEAKER 1: So
let’s switch gears, speak about possibly your
second passion in technology. You are, as they say here
in Silicon Valley, a techie. This is a word– JAVAGAL SRINATH: Passionate. I’m not a techie for sure. SPEAKER 1: You
introduced technology into Indian cricket
very early on. And I remember reading
an interview where you said that technology helped
Sachin’s career, extended it beyond what it would
have otherwise been. What was the team’s and the
coaching staff’s reception to technology when you first
brought it up many years ago? JAVAGAL SRINATH: It wasn’t
accepted, so accepted, so easily. I mean, it was a struggle
for me to convince people. Maybe my communication,
my articulation in trying to convince people
about what technology could do, was wrong. You see, when you go
to people and then say that technology
is going to help you, it’s going to teach
you something, the first reaction was, what
can technology teach me? I think that’s where
I went wrong in trying to convince our own players. Probably I should have
said that technology will make you a guru to find
your own student within. That would have been a
better phrase to say. I didn’t have that
many words then maybe. So I was just trying to say
that it is going to help you. Technology will
tell you what to do. So they we’re not happy
because technology was more akin–
anything, any screen was more akin to televisions
than what exactly a computer does. And so I failed to convince
them to start with. And especially when
I was talking to them before the product
was developed, I failed to convince them– I failed to build an
imagination in the minds of each of the players. So then I realized I think
the product should be ready and then take it to them. It becomes more convincing. So at the very concept
stage, it was hard for me to sell that to the players. So once the technology
was ready and once we started showing them,
then they understood what exactly technology could do. So it was basically
the difference. They were able to see what they
did when they were doing well and what they’re doing
when they’re struggling. So when those two pictures
came next to each other, so cognitively, they were
able to find those minute differences and then
start correction, start correcting themselves. So it is the access,
the quick access of pictures, which made
coaching more easy, which made the corrections quicker. You could not have
done that otherwise where you could not even think– I’m talking about
’99, 2000– where you get one of the pictures
on the television here, and the second picture
in the second screen. And then to move that– to synchronize
those two pictures was never possible
in those days. It was quite challenging
stuff for anyone. So once the system came
in, it became quite easy. I mean, those days were tough. In 2000, we are
looking at a small RAM. 5/16 RAM used to
be this big, PCB. I’m sure– you’re all
youngsters sitting here. You have not even
seen those, actually. It was this big. And then we put in a system,
which was this big, almost like one big, the byte was. An ugly-looking thing, in fact. And that used to go blue. Every second,
minute, you know, it used to heat up so much
it was not possible for us to handle it. And then when Mr. [? Mohandas ?]
came in and introduced– he’s sitting here, right here. He was the one who reduced from
almost 70,000 lines of codes. He brought it down to 9,000
within a month’s time, made the machine more efficient. In fact, he’s the architect of
technology in sport in India. Nobody even knew what
technology could do. And, in fact, we had
advanced to such stage that even Star came and
said we will do something for your technology. We will take it
to the next level. So it was the need to address
a grave situation what we had, where we never had feedbacks. You know, coaches could
not even communicate where we were going wrong. Coaches found it very
difficult to address the weaknesses or the
strengths of the opponents. So unless otherwise we had quick
access to the video pictures. So once that was done, I
think it became more easier for us to understand where we
went wrong and how to analyze. And that’s when I think
we really understood the correction part of cricket. SPEAKER 1: So I
think essentially what you’re saying is, when
you gave your team information, that really helped them. So now, it’s an
interesting point, because Google and a number of
the companies in Silicon Valley have thrived with collecting
such information and such data and analyzing them and building
machine learning models and so on. Do you see a role for big data
in machine learning in cricket? JAVAGAL SRINATH: I think it
is heading that way, perhaps in the near future. I mean, how I see
technology moving forward, I think now we have
hit a saturation. More or less it is nothing but
a straightforward data which is every ball becomes a file
stored in the database with many attributes and then you have
a query screen and you keep calling it , whichever you want. But, I mean, that limit, that
has been there for the last 15, 20 years now. So we’ve got to move forward. That could be probably– you know, as you said, it
could be the machine learning. It could be– still the
work would be the same, it won’t change anything. But the way it is– the analysts kind of
capture those pictures will be different. They will probably– it
could recognize the face, and then say that
this is the bowler who is bowling, that maybe it
can understand the action. And then say, he’s
the bowler, and what are the outcomes of the ball? But I know, for me, I think,
the next level is what a player feels on the field. What are my energy levels? What is my– I would say– the
energy levels within me? I mean, how do you
understand energy levels? It could be the lactic acid
deposits in your blood. How long can I– so if I have some indication,
if I have some feedback within my own
system to say that, look, you’re getting
a little tired now. You’ve got to replenish now. Will that be the way
forward in cricket? I think it is all about where
technology meets life sciences. How do you read your heart rate? Can you read your sweat? Can you read the blood? I don’t know how you do
it, but can you read that? What kind of information
you get out of it? What is my mindset? Now there is a beautiful
tool which I saw recently where all the ECGs,
what you see now, now that’s more or
less your heart rate monitors which you
wear on your chest and then understand your heart
rate and your optimal heart rate and so on and so on. And at the same
time though, there is this encephalograph which
reads the brain signals. I saw a tool the
other day in India. Somebody was trying to
get my opinion on it. Where your left brain
is more logical, right is more emotional. So when you make a decision,
which one is functioning? So you have an app where
you see, and then you decide this is the right time
for you to make a decision. Now these things are coming in. Now I think at
some point I think all these gadgets will
be part of your life when you’re walking. And then you will
realize that this is– I think what is now? Where is this
technology leading now? You want to know everything
what is happening in your body on your app, correct? Anything, everything. What’s my sugar levels? What’s my starch
levels within the body? What is that I want? What is the one,
which is the one– what is the deficiency
that I have? Now what is it I need to add? I mean, it could be diabetes. It could be anything
for that matter. So probably it is
heading in that direction at this point in time. So even in sport, what is my
water retention in the body? Am I losing too many
minerals and salts in my body that is
making me tired? So as of now, we
just go and drink water because we are losing it. But what’s the right amount of
water that is important for us? What is the rate amount of
salt that is important for me? I think probably in the
next five to six years we’ll be heading
in the direction where we’ll be getting
what we want exactly. So back to your machine
learning and stuff. It can help, but more
than anything else, I want Google to find out where
the cricket match is happening through the world. Where are the open
grounds for us to make proper cricket grounds? Honestly, in 2011
to 2013, I used to see Google Maps to see where
there are grounds in Bangalore, where there are empty spaces
where I can go and approach them to lease those grounds for
us to prepare a proper cricket pitch. In fact, the JC ground when
we made the ground, where we built a ground, you
know, the first thing was this is the place where we– I went to the Google Map. There’s a space
here, so why don’t we approach JC to give the space
for us to put in a ground? So Google has also
played a role everywhere. But I think at
some stage, Google will have the rights
to get actively participating on real-time
basis on the Google search. I don’t know whether
that is possible or not, but it might happen
in the future. SPEAKER 1: Let’s hope– what is your opinion of
the decisionary system that we have in cricket today? JAVAGAL SRINATH: Technology
will be a part of, I think, cricket from now on because
television has become so good. Even the slightest movement
with those slow motions and the quality of
the cameras have improved so much that it is
beyond human capabilities. So umpires will
not be able to see from a distance those
little nicks or deviations, so on and so forth. But the demand at the other end
has been so high for cricket and for the good decisions. Everybody wants good
decisions, fair decisions. So without technology, you
will not be able to achieve it. So even then, there
will be a little bit of errors here and there. But that is tolerable errors. So technology will
be part of it, so DRS will be integral
part of sports from now on. SPEAKER 1: Do you
see DRS combined with machine learning replacing
human umpires in cricket at some point? JAVAGAL SRINATH: You see, I
think we cannot think cricket– or technology as a
master at any stage. I think to understand
the soul, I don’t know, no matter how much
improvements you do, what kind of
intelligence you build, it cannot understand a soul
and the mind of a human being. I think technology has to be
one level below at any stage. I mean, the decision
making has to be in the hands of the person,
I mean, the human beings. You might probably get the
best of the best information to make the right
decision, but it should be the humans at the
top making all the decisions. So the man is always the
master, and technology should be the slave. I don’t think the
other way is possible. So if you take away the
entire human element, so even if there is an
inherent mistake at any stage, you might probably get
a few things right. But that human element, that
fun part, will be missing. Then you don’t even need
players on either side. You can get some robots to play. Where is the fun then? I think India will put the
11 best robots and the US will also put 12 best
robots to play on the field. And that’s how the game goes. SPEAKER 1: I have one
last question for you. You are currently an
ICC match referee. You also have done a lot
of motivational talks for corporations and such. What’s next for
you in your life? JAVAGAL SRINATH: I think you
can plan for a good life, but I’ve been a happy-go-lucky
in many ways, which might not be the right way to go about. I don’t really plan big as such. But I’m an ardent fan
of technology in sport. I will always pursue it. I wanted to see
how far we can go in helping people get
the right kind of support from the technology,
especially in the coaching space and stuff. So that will be
one of my passions. It’s like when you’re playing,
when you’re schooling, you play sport all the time. So this technology and sport
will be that particular space now. And, of course, my career
will be something else. I mean, I’m a match referee now. I don’t know how I want to
get involved in the sport. It could be a little
bit of administration. It could be a little bit of
getting into the mainstream sport. I’m happy doing my
match refereeing now at this point in time. So at this point in
time, a lot of things that are happening back
home in India as far as cricket and administration
is all concerned. So we have to wait and
watch what happens. But as of now I’m a very
content match referee. SPEAKER 1: Thank you so much
for joining us today and sharing your stories and
your experiences. We really enjoyed
having you here. I hope you enjoy your
stay in the Bay Area. JAVAGAL SRINATH:
Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE]

30 thoughts on “Javagal Srinath: “His Cricket Career and the Future of Technology in Sports” | Talks at Google

  1. There is much more than cricket here , not to be missed , insights make worth watching every minute . Thanks for the upload . It is the unforgettable .

  2. What a bowler he was.. genuine human being with vision, intelligence and his thoughts about game and technology are way ahead of many other cricketers. loved it srinath… always a fan… you were the genuine speedster after kapil dev

  3. A nice man no doubt, but underachiever in comparison to his peers in that era – Glen McGrath, Wasim Akram, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock & even Chaminda Vaas perhaps.

  4. Sachin over bowled Srinath javagal,in test matches,to such an extent that Srinath's shoulder packed up and he could never bowl the same as again…. and mind you Javagal srinath was one of the Fastest bowlers India had produced.

  5. So much insight and erudition, combined with humility. He was my favorite player growing up in the 90's and 00's. He wasnt given his due by India's cricketing establishment.

  6. I saw him once face to face he stopped in his big car in bangalore – mysore cafe coffee day – immediately he was surrounded by some college students … this was the first time I came across any cricketer face to face … this was couple of years back during evening hours

  7. Among the many others I was delighted to watch the legendary player of our time? I wish I had met him at the right time to get some advice on cricketing career?

  8. srinath made late entry in cricket due to his engineering studies. he had few subjects to finish which he finished in 1997 . by 2000s new fast bowlers like Ashish Nehra Zaheer Khan plus Agarkar who was part of team since 1998 was already there . his performance was going down but he was still the best . by 2003 worldcup he gave selectors the final call . he picked up 16wickets made a honourable exit concentrating on umpiring referring etc with ICC. srinath will be always be remembered 4 being the fastest bowler after kapil dev . gentle giant

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