It’s pretty clear that Harbhajan is the villain in this spat (as he usually is): regardless of what Sreesanth said on the field or at the end of the match, he’s hardly deserving of a slap. (Incidentally, do grown men still slap each other? I thought that the closed fist was the preferred method of persuasion these days.)
Nevertheless, it appears that Sreesanth too will be questioned, for reasons not connected with this incident. Throughout the IPL tournament, the pacer has gone on over-drive with the unnecessary verbals and spats. I can’t blame him though: he rightly could argue that the IPL is not the ICC, and Twenty20 is not Test cricket. If you want the old gentlemanly stuff, then there’s no reason you should tune into a show that emphasizes entertainment over class and cheerleaders over balls (no offense, Uncle J Rod). So, go ahead and antagonize all the people you want, Sree: it’s all fair game now.
I’ll end this post, however, with a YouTube video showing a much-chastened Sreesanth avowing a new-found maturity. “I’m a changed man,” he tells us, full of faux-modesty and humility.
It’s a standard milestone for budding cricketers: Kevin Pietersen said at one point that he was done with the haircuts and ready to settle down (I doubt marrying Celeste counts for that) and M.S. Dhoni also confessed that he had learned that hard-hitting wasn’t everything. It’s another marker that cricket uses to differentiate itself from other sports: we want thinking cricketers, team-players who can handle pressure with grace and poise. As Sreesanth discovered, however, temperament does not prove itself in an interview or even on the field, but in a handshake and with good manners.