Category Archives: Sreesanth

Sreesanth Is Annoying A Lot of People

Via Times of India, M.S. Dhoni talks about his advice to Sreesanth:

“I am very specific to him and told him that he should not cross a few boundaries. It is better that you do not cross those boundaries. If you want to irritate someone that should be the opposition and not your side,” Dhoni said of the Kerala bowler, who has a reputation of losing his cool and coming up with animated gestures in the heat of the moment.

Hilarious. Sreesanth shows why it can be so difficult to captain; he seems incapable of change or listening to his superiors. Add to this mix an arrogant prick like Harbhajan Singh, and you see why Sachin Tendulkar felt managing a pack of mortals was harder than scoring 50 centuries.

Ishant Sharma Bites The Dust

His descent is nearly complete. Dropped from the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka. But the selectors replace the man with S. Sreesanth, another once-heralded pace asset who quickly fell from grace with bad form, persistent injuries and an absolutely ridiculous on-field persona that even Jerk Supremo Harbhajan Singh couldn’t stand.

I’m already up to sign a “Bring Sharma Back” petition if someone’s passing it around. (Just watch Sreesanth do well in this Test, just to spite all of us.)

Matthew Hayden Eats Sreesanth For Dinner

From Cricinfo:

“He is a particularly over-rated bowler,” Hayden said later, indicating he deliberately went after Sreesanth. “He loses his cool under pressure.” There was a bit of needle between the two players. Asked what the chat was about, Hayden said: “It’s not worth repeating.”

Sreesanth Sends Off Matthew Hayden

During the match against the Chennai Super Kings, Sreesanth apparently couldn’t resist a little confrontation with Matthew Hayden, who just hit the poor guy for successive boundaries. From Cricinfo:

16.6 Sreesanth to Hayden, OUT, caught! Hayden walks down the track and smashes the ball high, it;s really high but this time it hasn’t gone far, Jayawardene settles under it at long-on and holds on to a well-judged catch, Sreesanth gives Hayden a small send off but he’s copped a fearful hammering in the over

Homer defends Sreesanth (or, rather, criticizes commentators’ double standards); Prafs criticizes him. I’m on Prafs’ side, if only because I think Sreesanth is slightly insane (and not in the good-fast-bowler-insanity way).

Sri Lanka Takes Over The Neighborhood

So, I head off to Chicago for less than a week, only to return and find the ashes of Indian cricket lying around. We’ve known of Sri Lanka’s prowess since 1996, when they won the World Cup with a revolutionary ODI strategy. But they never really gained chops in Test cricket in my opinion: without Muralitharan and a few other stars, their team lacked the necessary firepower. And when they toured Australia last year, they showed that they were still in transition, struggling to come out of the so-called “lost decade.” Even now, I’m not convinced that they’re an international team; without Malinga and Fernando, they are only champions in the sub-continent.

Well, that’s still something to behold: Continue reading

Stealing The Spirit: Ganguly/Warne (2)

In his very impressive rant against Sourav Ganguly, Shane Warne makes note of “that wall” that all the captains signed at the opening ceremony. Their signatures required them, he said, to act only within the “spirit of cricket,” a vague and almost empty concept that means everything to everybody, depending on perspective and, apparently, nationality.

At some level, we understand what it means, but only with specific concrete actions: standing too long after being dismissed; shouting verbally at another player; pointing at some pavilion. But, like the slippery debate over torture in America, that’s where the consensus ends, and the clashing dictionaries come out. How long does a batsman have to stand before they can be pulled up for dissent? How much (and with what words?) can a player swear at another before the match referee becomes involved?

Referees and authorities have inadvertently contributed to this muddle when they make it a point to punish only the worst offenders. Don’t get me wrong; rude behavior should not be tolerated, but players understand that they can get away with a lot before they will be fined. So, instead of going all out with their offenses, they plan smaller scrimmages, and referees, interested only in the really glaring stuff, let things slide. Consequently, we begin to split hairs and make a mockery of the spirit behind the rules.

The IPL, however, should not even have had that Orwellian “wall” signed anyway. Continue reading

Celebrity Culture: When Shah Rukh Khan Met Dhoni

During the 1990s, the Indian media would often speak of a thickening “nexus” between crime and politics, and Bollywood, and business, and so on. It was a maddeningly conspiratorial term, ominous sounding and yet  vaguely scientific, but it also perfectly describes the symbiotic relationship that Bollywood and the IPL have developed of late.

Anyone following Shah Rukh Khan’s career of late will know what shrewd marketing ploys the man has employed to buttress his own popularity, showing up early and often to any location featuring the Indian team (and, some said, earning the BCCI’s ire). With the IPL, however, the connection has become more explicit and mature: actors and actresses use cricket to heighten their popularity, while cricket franchises use celebrities’ brand names to inspire loyalty among fans who, ordinarily wouldn’t care one way or the other about Kolkata or Chennai’s scorecards.

It’s a win-win for the involved stars, but it’s still opportunistic and shady, not to mention a distraction from the real match at hand. The question of “branding” cricket obscures the actual cricket as cricketers — at least the Indians — become stars first, and players second. On endorsements everywhere, Indian cricketers spill into the Indian consciousness again and again, and I worry that the link between the sport and its audience will become mediated by something other than simply viewing a player’s bat hit another player’s ball. To some extent, that’s been this blog’s thesis all along (that cricket is more than cricket), but we’re talking about more than culture and history here. We’re talking manipulation. We used to use cricket as a focal point for our cultural neuroses, but now, the process has reversed itself, with cricket deciding what’s important to us. In other words, our cricketers have become media phenomenons, rather than sportsmen.

There are two residual dangers involved: Continue reading

Mickey Arthur Can Cry Too

South Africa’s coach just joined the Harbhajan-Sreesanth controversy, but adds fewer than the entry fee’s required two cents. First, he notes that his team had several issues with both players, especially after Sreesanth abused De Villiers and Harbhajan went after that meekest of batsmen, Ashwell Prince. (The latter point is particularly distressing, since Prince is black, revealing a distressing pattern with Harbhajan.)

But Arthur should have uttered his points and left it at that. Instead, he has to go on about not being a “squealer,” and why he didn’t say anything before:

“At the end of the day, we are not squealers,” Arthur said. “We strongly believe that what happens on the field stays on it. Besides, we were very happy with the general spirit in which the series was played in, and we left with very pleasant memories of the tour, especially the cricket that was played.”

Well, let’s put aside the obvious contradiction here: Arthur says he’s not a squealer, just as he complains about the two players’ behavior. But that’s not what’s distressing: I don’t understand exactly why players should be treated as squealers for having a difficult time with another player’s on-field behavior. Continue reading

Sreesanth Under The Scope

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. Continue reading

Harbhajan Slaps Sreesanth (2)

Punjab won the latest match against the Mumbai Indians, but…what’s this? Sreesanth in tears? And Preity Zinta gives Brett Lee the hug? This is too, too hilarious for TV (and listen as the commentators have no idea what’s going on. “Hard to tell,” says the stodgy South African one.)

I think this shows, to some extent, the difference between the Indian and Australian dressing rooms. More than one observer has noted the strict hierarchy that exists in South Asian teams, with junior players required to slavishly do the seniors’ bidding. I think John Wright wrote about how amazed he was to find players scurrying around carrying tea and biscuits as the legends lazed about during team meetings.

There’s something about that here: Sreesanth, who is still in his early 20s, just got chided in public, and rather than being outright angry about it, he falls into himself, distraught and emotional. It reminds me of my days in all-boy Catholic schools in Bombay, when just a hint of reproach from older students would do enough to ruin your week. Even today, the media regularly reports incidents of “ragging” in universities, and the utter contempt with which younger students are treated, as the new India finds ever more ways to classify, divide, and exploit itself. (Perhaps that’s an over-reaction, but look at that boy’s tears!)