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Sreesanth Takes Aggression To Unfamiliar Levels

By Orin Davidson
High expectations dissolved into disappointment for India in their 4-2 limited overs series loss to Australia.

There was nothing much to shout about where mega stars Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly or Mahendra Singh Dhoni were concerned.

Rather, most of the news from an Indian perspective centered around a young fast bowler - Shanthakumuran Sreesanth who made the headlines for bizarre behavior rather than for his proven ability to take wickets.

The 24-year-old was castigated by the foreign media for altercations with Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge and Andrew Symonds among others.

He took on Symonds on several occasions verbally during the seven-game series but ending by shouting in the batsman’s face after his dismissal in the Chandigarh game.

Clearly Sreesanth got carried away by Australia’s well used strategy of mental disintegration applied in the series, to retaliate and ended up being branded a kooky case not fit for international cricket.

Still stung by their upset elimination by India in the Twenty/20 World Cup, Australia was intent to wage war on all fronts on India, but they got more than they bargained for in the war of words from Sreesanth.

Even though he was made out as a loose cannon, the Australians who are the creators of and abusers of sledging, once again escaped without their share of criticism.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell branded Sreesanth an accident waiting to happen and urged the Board of Control for India Cricket (BCCI) to ban him.

Such reactions are reminiscent of the clash between West Indies’ Ramnaresh Sarwan and former Aussie pace bowling ace Glen McGrath four years ago.

After McGrath started a fight he could not control in the end, after going over the line in questioning Sarwan’s sexuality, which the latter responded in the most jarring manner, the West Indian was made out as the offender instead of the offendee. If McGrath did not start the ball rolling he would not have gotten the retort about his wife.

Similarly most observers have concluded that Sreesanth is the big bad wolf when at the same time certain Australians are equally culpable.

They inflict just as much damage with their words which influence opponents to react with actions such as Sreesanth is wont to commit.

No doubt the India player has gone overboard on occasions but you get the impression certain teams are allowed to enjoy double standards at the expense of others.

It was uncalled for, when unprovoked, he bumped England captain Michael Vaughn during the recent Test series in England.

Or when he jumped the line and delivered a bouncer at Kevin Pieterson.

In the said series he released a beamer to the said batsman which drew the ire of ex-England captain Michael Atherton.

He called for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to institute one match bans for beamers delivered unintentionally or not.

But the worst part of it was Atherton hinting that Sreesanth committed the act deliberately, merely because the ball was not new, which he felt allowed for enough grip to avert such slip ups.

It was one of the most outrageous insinuations leveled at any player at international level.

From all indications Sreesanth who also was accused of having the grounds-person repair the bowlers run-up for 15 minutes, is rubbing some people the wrong way for being the first ultra aggressive Indian fast bowler, not overly respectful of opponents regardless of status or nationality.

In the West Indies where Indian teams have suffered the most at the hands of fast bowlers, Sreesanth was not afraid to stare down or bait even the great Brian Lara during last year’s tour.

For all his revilement, he is no different to South Africa’s Andre Nel, a notorious short fuse or the retired Dennis Lillee and Merv Hughes who all antagonized batsmen.

But Sreesanth has to tone down and avoid preempting situations when not involved in the action as was the case while shouting down Symonds.

In that regard fans will remember him more as the fast bowler who can swing the ball both ways with some measure of pace. Or for the five- wicket hauls he has accumulated so far in a short career or for knocking off Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan in the same over.

Aggression is good in fast bowlers who must never habor inferior feelings for opposing players.

Sreesanth is that type of player but going over that line diminishes accomplishments which the Indian has to be wary of.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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