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Time to crack the whip
by Gulu Ezekiel
Aug 06, 2007
The Indian touring team would be sending out a very positive message indeed if it decided to drop Sreesanth for the third and final Test at the Oval on disciplinary grounds. That will never happen of course. International cricket is far too competitive for any team to make such a noble gesture, particularly for what is the decider at the end of a highly competitive series.

Brownie points don’t win you matches. But in an ideal world, the managers of the two sides could sit down and work out a compromise solution—India will discipline Sreesanth if England reciprocate by suspending their loud-mouthed instigator Matt Prior!

Sreesanth’s histrionics were a distraction to all concerned, particularly the bowler himself. He finished with a single wicket in the Trent Bridge Test and his bowling on the fourth evening, with India desperate to get a wicket or two before the close, was pantomime theatre at its tragic-comic best (or worst!).

With Ranadeep Bose striking form in the final warm-up game against Sri Lanka ‘A’, it might be a gamble worth taking if he were included in the playing XI.

Then again, the tour selection committee would no doubt be loath to risk a player who is yet to make his Test debut in place of a proven match-winner.

This year alone has seen two outstanding performances by Indian pacers, Sreesanth’s eight-wicket haul at the Wanderers and Zaheer Khan’s nine wickets at Trent Bridge. Both won them the Man of the Match award and took India to victory.

By all accounts, the young pacer is mild-mannered and friendly off the field. Then again, he is not the first of his ilk to display such schizophrenic tendencies. Dennis Lillee, one of the greatest fast bowlers, immediately springs to mind.

Lillee though had both the pace and the physique to back up his ‘verbals’. If Sreesanth has to resort to beamers and over-stepping the crease to intimidate batsmen, then he needs to be taught an expensive lesson (half the match fees deducted is not quite enough) before his antics lead to serious trouble on the pitch.

While Lillee’s on-field rage was genuine, Sreesanth appears more to be a child of the modern TV era with its numerous camera angles and intense close-ups.

That mid-pitch prancing act in South Africa has perhaps made him a star in his own mind.

The habit of clenching his fists and talking to himself on his way back to the mark was first noticed on the South Africa tour.

One former Indian cricketer told me this was nothing to do with motivation but was instead a put-on act on the advice of his agent.

I shrugged that off till I saw him in a TV advertisement for a Kerala finance firm playing out the exact same gestures!

It is apparent he is becoming a victim of his created image and there is a danger lurking there.

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