In January this year, this writer had come up with a piece on why the Indian selectors must give Shanthakumaran Sreesanth one more chance at the international level. (India must give Sreesanth one last go at the international level). Little did the writer know that a few months down the line he would be writing his cricketing epitaph. For sure, the Kerala speedster’s playing days seem behind him now that he has been embroiled in such a major controversy. There is no guarantee that Sreesanth would have reclaimed his place in the Indian side had he not got involved in spot-fixing. At the same time, it cannot be denied, with his humungous talent, there was a fair chance that he would have made a comeback.
The most disappointing, and the most discussed, aspect of Sreesanth’s playing career has been his over-exuberant attitude towards the game. And when a player makes a lot of news for reasons other than his field of expertise, it definitely means he is troubled waters. With Sreesanth, it was always a case of him self-destructing. But, what he did would never have figured even in the India cricket fans’ worst nightmare. The feeling with Sreesanth always was that he was a bad boy from the outside, but clean from within. That myth has been shattered.
While one cannot defend the actions by Ajit Chandia and Ankeet Chavan, Sreesanth’s involvement is the most shocking since, unlike the other two little-known names, Sreesanth was someone who had represented India at the highest level. Remember, he was the man who kept his calm and caught Misbah-Ul-Haq, which won them the World T20 in 2007. But now, every time we see a replay of that catch, we would be reminded of something murkier. Sreesanth was also the one who singlehandedly bowled India to a historic Test win in South Africa, and also featured in the 2011 World Cup final. All that will mean for little now.
For a man of his stature to stoop so low, speaks volumes of how little playing the sport means to some of the cricketers today. Sreesanth had often said that he took pride in playing for India, and that he gave his very best. Every time he overdid he aggression on the field, a lot of Indian fans felt embarrassed. At the same time, there were also a feeling that he was possibly putting his best foot forward for the team. All that looks such a farce now, and nothing more than a show-off. He was warned by the national and state cricket boards as well as skipper MS Dhoni to mend his ways, but one felt Sreesanth never took cognisance. This cavalier attitude of his is what has got him into such big trouble today.
In spite of all his misgivings, his involvement in something as murky as fixing is still rather unbelievable. It was only recently that the boy from Kerala, who never grew up to be a man, had returned to domestic cricket, after having undergone two operations, and with two platinum nails inserted in his toes. When a sportsman goes through so much, it is bound to inspire him to comeback stronger. But Sreesanth chose a completely diverse path, one from where there seems to be no way back for him as far as cricket is concerned.
--By A Cricket Analyst