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Monday, March 7

Sreesanth: The outcast nerd

There is an early warning sign to identify the transition of an individual from a confident person to an arrogant pest >> when that person starts addressing himself pompously in first person. I request your attention to the following statement.

"Sreesanth's way is to be aggressive. Sreesanth will always remain Sreesanth."

- Santhakumaran Sreesanth to Cricinfo

There are two points in that short statement which are certainly disturbing.

(1) Addressing self without using the humble pronoun.
(2) Denial mode; viz a viz acknowledging a problem which has caused significant personal and professional heartburn.

Where does the shoe pinch for Santhakumaran Sreesanth? And why is he the only person on the sphere not feeling that pinch?

Received this one funny parody song yesterday on the protagonist of this post from one of my Twitter buddies which sparked the idea for this blog. Here goes! (It's in Malayalam)

Its funny. No doubt. Now what is not funny are the statements made by the Captain and Manager about this one member of Indian Cricket team.

"I was very specific to him and told him that he should not cross boundaries. If you want to irritate someone, that should be the opposition and not your side."

- MS Dhoni before the World Cup (Newslink)

"He was told that he has been playing international cricket for long enough now that he should know what is right and wrong." 

- Lalchand Rajput, Manager during previous Australian tour (Newslink)

Even the print media and television channels have made a mock-merry of this strange and sorry style of Sreesanth. Any video or mention of S. Sreesanth on YouTube or any social networking site immediately attracts sneer comments, especially from Keralaites, because we understand his issues better than anybody. In all fairness, Sreesanth gets the short end of the stick because he begged for it.

Saddest point is that this is happening to a bowler who was rated by Harsha Bhogle as 'a bowler which appears once in a generation'. Now, Harsha is one astute observer and the finest analytic of the cricket game and players; he has seldom been proved wrong. So where has all that promise withered away?

Sreesanth, if carries on in this self-destructive hillbilly ways, will be a clinical case-study of a talented sportsperson who dug his own grave by trying to be someone else. There is no excuse what-so-ever to the acts Sree has committed over his erratic, short and apologetic career in the name of 'aggression' & 'passion'. Take a look...

  •  Deliberately & provokingly barging into English Captain Micheal Vaughan
  •  Personally abusing SA Captain Greame Smith 
  •  Sarcastic hand-clapping vile towards umpire in IPL
  •  Altercation with Harbhajan Singh and the infamous slap-weep incident
  •  Multiple fines from ICC for excessive and provocative appealing
  •  Persistent over-reaction and on-the-field run-in with opposition team members and spectators 
  •  Official final warning from BCCI & KCA regarding on-field behaviour (Newslink)

All the above incidents carried significant fine-tags and bans from the Governing bodies. All this in just 24 Tests and 50 ODIs in under 5 years! But the painful fact is that Sree still refuses to admit there is an issue. He is in a persistent denial mode, just like an Alcoholic finding solace in his ego-defenses. Only if you admit the problem, you can address it, resolve it.

It may be hard to believe but the private Sree is at the opposite pole from the player Sree we all know. Sreesanth could just be the 'most eligible bachelor' if he mimics his performances on Women's College dance halls, Five Star Hotel ramps and on red carpet with arms measuring those Bollywood hotties' tender waist. But drop him on the green, oval arena and the boy goes bizarrely berserk!

It's all impressive dear Sree, but we're not exactly in search for a Rock-star. If so, BCCI would've selected Appache Indian to play cricket long time ago.

Sreesanth's issues seem clear: He is yet to come in terms with the sudden exposure to limelight. Its pretty obvious that the match situation gets better of him everytime he's on an International field; may be it just clouds his judgement. Sree is trying too hard to 'create' an attribute of his personality which is not inherent in him. Sreesanth surely considers "aggression" as physical confrontation or 'maa-behen' usage against opponents, often leading to comical, weird acting outs like 'The Hatter' in Alice in Wonderland, and worse, puts himself and his team under pressure.

But Sreesanth has some explanations. Like this one (after the Smith incident)

More explanations: (From @sreesanth36 Twitter)

I live with every little thing with lots of passion.that's my motto .I am thankful to all

Dear Sreesanth, passion, pride and patriotism aren't anything alien. I possess it, you possess it, your neighbour's cousin possesses it, but in varying degrees. Understandably, when you adorn your nation's colours these passions hit the roof. But with Sreesanth they go through the roof taking him along with it. But you must know the difference between 'sarcasm' & 'insult', 'aggression' & 'stupidity' , 'sledging' & 'abuse'.

We've seen hundreds of thousands of sportsmen playing for their clubs, states, provinces and nations with the same pride and passion. But Sree is exhibiting tomfoolery and juvenile immaturity in the name of it. Reminds me of the same 'pride & passion' of erstwhile English Football fans which breached the borders of criminality.

There are quite a few sporting scumbags (excuse the expression s'il vous plait) matching Sree's profile, if that'll make you feel better. Austrialian skipper Ponting, South African seamer Andre Nel, Paki pacer Akhtar, our own Bhaji. But they seldom turned themselves into laughing-stock of the nation. They had issues similar to Sreesanth but they command respect of their team-mates and opposition because they had their on-field numbers to show-off.  People tend to forgive and forget if you let your performance do the all the talk. Sreesanth's statistical exploits with the red cherry have only helped in outraging the cricket fans. Kind of 'all fart, no shit' condition. That's how the bad blood formed between the fans and Sree.
This is one fair criticism about Sree, which he ought to take very very seriously. He is pissing off his fans as well as his Captain & team-members consistently. How many times have we seen a ginger Dhoni at post-match conference when journos take out the Sreesanth card?

Some over-patriotic people have some odd arguments and lame excuses for the 'Sreesanth' phenomenon. That Sree is targeted by 'North Indian lobby' because he is a 'Madrassi', a Keralite. Another one that we  are more eager and enthusiastic to see the decline of a fellow Keralite as depicted by the Kerala crab story. hah. Do we all need to be naive like the ubiquitous garden variety politicians around us? This is like Kalainjar Karunanidhi defending Saint A. Raja terming the 2G scam as 'conspiracy against a scheduled caste minister' and such pathetic third-rate politico stuff.

Seriously guys, how can you expect the sensible masses to support and justify the regular excruciating antic show on serious business like International Cricket, where cricketers are role models for kids?

History shows that Keralaites have always admired and acknowledged talent. PT Usha was the delight of the state, and we're still all ears to what she says, and does. Kerala just love our 'black pearl' IM Vijayan and other footballers who adorned our state and national jersey. Which section of public haven't loved or supported our Track & Field stars like Anju Bobby Goerge or Shyni Wilson? Keralites may not be as expressive, open or eccentric like our neighbours in expressing admiration, but claiming that we're envious, jealous... lol! guys, you better open your wide-shut eyes!

Just see why Sreesanth alone had fallen into the odd bracket? You tell me why. Its obvious.

No one asks Sree to be another gentleman-personified Tendulkar or cool-dude Dhoni. Just be sane at the business end of the job. It is perfectly ok to be aggressive, neither do I see anything unduly wrong in this 'sledging' meme. Zaheer and Harbhajan are aggressive on filed without any animation or eccentricity, and it has worked very well for them.

In sledging and aggressiveness, you need to know what you're doing. You must be sure that you don't approach the sacrilegious red line. You're actions must be beneficial to the team. You needn't be a pestilential prick to get under the opponents skin. And lastly, you must know when it starts affecting your concentration instead of the opponent's. Sreesanth appear to be unsure, unaware of all the above.

Result: Boomerang! He becomes the scourge of himself and his performance nosedives.

One thing I beg of Sreesanth. Leave 'aggression' and such emotions at the door before entering the green, at least for a while. Just look back, recollect, reassess. This misplaced 'aggression' has only reaped miseries. Concentrate on the job and show us the 'once in a generation' bowler that Harsha promised us that you are.

 A rare sight for an Indian pacer vs a top class batsman tussle. Sreesanth's peach blows Kallis off the ground

We all want Sreesanth to do well for the country simply because he is a hugely promising, rare, match winning bowler India so badly needs, and also because he is a fellow Keralite. I'll be the first to put my hands up and say "I was wrong" if Sree eventually proves us wrong, with his consistent performances on the 22-yard strip. I sincerely hope to see that day. 

Images courtesy: Cricinfo, Flickrbuzz