Plagued by injuries throughout his tumultuous six-year international career, Kerala pace ace S Sreesanth is coming through another frustrating period. Not only did he miss the tour of West Indies, where he was expected to spearhead the attack in Zaheer Khan’s absence, he’s also seen his replacement, Praveen Kumar, step up to the plate and stake a claim for a regular spot. Ishant Sharma is also bowling with renewed vigour.
Eager to get back in the groove for the England tour, Sreesanth is banking on the thing that works for him – raw pace — injuries be damned.
Making a comeback after his latest injury (tennis elbow) the 28-year-old is in no mood to sacrifice pace even with the physical demands of the modern game in mind.
“I don’t want to be a bowler who gets injured and then comes back and bowls at 120kmph. I want to bowl fast. Even in 2007, I had a back injury and people asked, ‘why don’t you start playing because you can bowl?’ But, I don’t want to just bowl. I want to bowl fast,” Sreesanth tells the HT in an interview. Excerpts:
What’s the status on your injury?
I had a tennis elbow, and a bruise on my bone. For the last year and a half I’ve been on and off feeling pain while bowling. I am training hard and following a proper routine. I am fine now.
What will be the challenge in England?
England are a very good side, they have done well everywhere. The conditions will be helpful, but not getting carried away by the bounce and the swing, like I did on my last tour in 2007, will be the key. It took me two Tests to understand how to bowl in England, and the experience of playing a season for Warwickshire will be to my advantage.
One thing about England is that the conditions are helpful but if you don’t hit the right areas you won’t get wickets. If you can swing the ball with pace, nothing like it. I learnt that from Allan Donald and Ashley Giles, who were my coaches at Warwickshire.
Many feel the contest will decide the top Test team in the world?
We don’t need to discuss that. We’re the top-ranked team, and we have proved it for the last year and a half.
Experts feel you are more suited for Test cricket? Is it because it gives you a chance to bounce back unlike a limited overs game?
It is an honour when a great player says that I am a good Test bowler. But honestly, as a cricketer, I want to play all forms of the game. I want to give my best shot, some days I don’t do well, which is a part of the game. All I can control is to give my best when I get an opportunity. There’s nothing like a one-day or a Test bowler, I just want to play for India and do well in all forms of the game. I have four-five years of very good cricket left in me, I am 28, and 28 to 32 are the best years for a fast bowler, you are more experienced and more fit.
You are known to enjoy the party circuit. How are you preparing for the England series? Have you cut down on partying?
I had my share of celebrations for a couple of weeks (after the World Cup win), but that is history now. I am training hard. I don’t want to be a bowler who gets injured and then comes back and bowls at 120kmph. I want to bowl fast. Even in 2007, I had a back injury and people asked, ‘why don’t you start playing because you can bowl?’
But, I don’t want to just bowl. I want to bowl fast. A lot of people question, why he is not playing? But I had this pain and whenever I bowled fast, it was getting worse. I don’t want to cheat myself. I want to bowl fast and get back in to the team.
Do you think partying affects your performance?
It’s a personal choice. If you know what you are doing and when to do it, then it’s fine. Sab ke liye ek time hota hai. It’s about setting your priorities right, knowing your values… I celebrate when it is the right time. I am not into partying much now. I am not a 19-year-old anymore. I love going out; I used to love partying, even now I go to these get-togethers.
It is more about relaxing your mind and body and taking the mind off cricket. I love to go and watch movies, or may be a small get-together at home with light music and some fun. Partying now is only restricted to when it is the birthday of a very close buddy or a special occasion. I don’t think it will affect your game as long as you don’t overdo it. Anything over is bad… There is a thin line between foolishness and bravery and if you know that line, you will be fine.
You are a two-time world champion, how do you compare the 2007 World T20 triumph with the 2011 ODI World Cup experience?
2011 was a completely different experience from 2007, when I took the last catch in the final. In the 2011 tournament, I hardly did anything. Fortunately, I got to play the most important game — the final.
It is great to be part of World Cup history but that doesn’t stop me. I want to set standards now; I want to take responsibility.
I want to be like Zaheer bhai; follow his footsteps, listen and learn from him, and one day become the main strike bowler of India and win matches. There are 14 Tests coming up, I will miss the three against the West Indies but will still get 11. I want to go to the next level. I have been in and out of the team for six years, and it is high time I consolidated my position and became a matchwinner.
How did you take it when you were dropped from the IPL team?
I took it in the right spirit. I knew the West Indies and England tours were coming and I motivated and trained myself to be fit for the series. Nobody wants to miss a game, but honestly it gave me time to set goals about what I want to achieve and where I want to be in one year’s time. Someone like Muraltharan, who has 800 Test wickets, was also dropped for some matches, that’s how the
…because you were a current India player who was not finding a place among the seven local players in the Kochi team?
Honestly, I didn’t understand (being dropped for the IPL games) but I was only a player, not the captain or the vice-captain. I was not involved in the team management’s decisions.
The DRS has triggered a strong debate, are you for or against it?
It is the Board’s decision, and we respect that. We are under contract.