With the dust finally settling on the Sreesanth chapter, the only consolation prize for Indian cricket is that the seam bowler wasn’t performing at the same level as Pakistan quicks Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - who suffered a similar fate a couple of years ago.
Pakistan did miss them. It took a while before Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan came along to shoulder the burden.
Sreesanth last played for India during the Oval Test in August 2011. Even going by his timeline of antics, nobody expected such a plummet for Sreesanth. But there’s one thing nobody would doubt: Sreesanth was a phenomenal talent.
‘Best since kapil’
According to TA Sekar, who coached the maverick bowler at MRF Foundation more than a decade ago, “Sreesanth is India’s best exponent of out-swing since Kapil Dev.” Now, that is something. “I feel sad that one of India’s most talented bowlers, and definitely the most talented young bowler I have ever worked with, has to pack his bags at the age of 30. When I first him, I felt that nobody had his enthusiasm,” Sekar told HT.
Never short of zeal
Sreesanth surely didn’t lack enthusiasm.
Venkatesh Prasad, India’s bowling coach when Sreesanth enjoyed his most cherished moment, the T20 World Cup win in South Africa, echoed Sekar’s observations.
“I feel sorry for Sreesanth. He had amazing potential. There was always a question mark over his temperament, but nobody can question his talent.
“I had some close interactions with him as coach — and at times he was very difficult to work with. But there were times when he would try to learn new things. He was gifted. And there’s no doubt that it’s a talent gone down the drain,” Prasad told HT.
Must pay the price
Prasad though felt Sreesanth must pay the price. “Nobody is bigger than the law. No matter who, a cricketer, a celebrity or anyone else. If he has done wrong, he deserves punishment.”
Kapil Dev, India’s most decorated fast bowler ever, told HT: “I am not hurt that his career is over. I am more hurt with the fact that all this has happened. Cricket has come down to this. I don’t want to dwell into what Sreesanth did or didn’t. I am more hurt about the corruption.”
Karsan Ghavri, who played 39 Tests for India, said: “It is a big loss for Indian cricket. But there are lots of good pacers in the pipeline. He won’t be missed that much. But he had god-gifted talent, which very few seamers possess. And he wasted all that talent.”
Madan Lal felt: “Though he was in and out of the team, there is little doubt that he had great talent. But he also had many patchy performances. So it’s not a big loss.”