Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank heavens Sreesanth’s back!

(Also in my column 'Shoja Kotha' in Bengali daily Ek Din)

It’s easy to dislike Sreesanth. He is irritating. He is totally full of himself. He gets on your nerves at times. And I am not just talking about the Slapgate incident with Harbhajan Singh. I am talking about Sreesanth in general. During practice sessions. During breakfast at the team hotel. On the phone – sometimes he will pick up the phone and speak for hours; sometimes he will become incommunicado.

I remember one particular incident in Sydney – this was during the Commonwealth Bank series last year. Sreesanth had something going with Robin Uthappa from before the net practice session started. And when Robin’s turn to bat came, he went up to captain Dhoni and said clearly that he didn’t want to face Sreesanth. Dhoni refused to pay attention, but Sreesanth had overheard the conversation, as did all of us journalists standing by.

What followed was easily the most irritating and childish episode you are ever likely to see. Sreesanth bowled a sequence of about 15 deliveries to Robin. All of them were bouncers. And all of them were down the leg side. As a result, Robin couldn’t get his bat to a single delivery. Each time he ‘beat’ Robin, Sreesanth had a smirk on his face, as Robin went purple. Eventually, Dhoni had to intervene; he moved Robin to a different net to face the other bowlers.

Sreesanth’s line and length became okay within two minutes.

That’s what Sreesanth is like. Irritating. Childish. Churlish. Petulant. A kid.

But that’s what is also so endearing about Sreesanth. That’s what makes him so likeable. I’ve seen him promise an interview to a young reporter on the condition that the youngster take five catches in a row during an India team practice session. The youngster missed two, Sreesanth still granted him the interview. Over breakfast, Sreesanth has spoken to me at length about his bowling, his injuries, the problems with his temperament, his family, his home in Kerala...this, as the rest of the players went off to shop on an off-day while on tour.

And even when it comes to his indiscretions on the field, beneath the nonsense, you can’t help but admit that Sreesanth is basically an overgrown kid. Which is why, you have to admit that he has been punished enough for his stupidities – Slapgate and everything else. It was time for him to come back, and it’s such a relief that he has come back on such a high note. Because, sincerely speaking, he deserves a good turn now.