Sreesanth comes from Kerala, renowned for its soothing beauty and traditions. But he himself is proving to be anything but tranquil.
The 24-year-old bowler’s unhinged behaviour in the second ODI against Australia in Kochi on Tuesday upstaged the cricket and the result of the match. Especially when Australian captain Adam Gilchrist had a few frank things to say about the way the paceman behaved after getting the wicket of Andrew Symonds.
India’s cricket manager Lalchand Rajput said he had a word with Sreesanth on Wednesday.
“We told him he has to calm down,” Rajput told the Hindustan Times here on Wednesday. “We told him that it was alright to be aggressive but he cannot overdo it. He is all right now. He knows what he needs to do.”
Asked if Chris Broad, the match referee, had spoken to the team or the bowler for his antics, Rajput said, “No. There is no penalty either as yet.”
You might feel that Australia talking about poor conduct is akin to the pot calling the kettle black. But while the Australians go about their mischief verbally, Sreesanth does it physically, visibly, hysterically.
Following is an abridged version of what the International Cricket Council (ICC) says in its Code of Conduct for players and officials.
One: Players and/or team officials shall at all times conduct play within the spirit of the game.
Two: Players and/or officials shall at no time engage in conduct unbecoming to their status which could bring them or the game of cricket into disrepute.
The ICC may or may not take action against Sreesanth for his Manic Tuesday, but it is clear he is playing with fire. He loves music and dance. Maybe he should set the ICC rules to a nice beat and listen to them until they are seared into his memory.
Sreesanth has been in trouble before. He was fined for gesticulating at Hashim Amla after getting his wicket in South Africa last year. When he shouldered Michael Vaughan in England this year, he had to surrender part of his match fee. Still, there’s no sign of restraint from the young man who — get a load of this! — is a psychology student.
A reputation, once stuck, is hard to undo. More so in a career in cricket where the media, which loves labels, plays such a big role. Indian cricket is enjoying a revival of image after the World Twenty20 triumph. It is Sreesanth’s duty to not endanger it with his antics.
Last week, Bangalore’s Florence Public School, where Sreesanth studied for three years, felicitated him for his performance in the World Twenty20. The current students had only admiration for him. Sreesanth needs to understand that as a role model to the impressionable young, he has certain responsibilities.
This not to say that he must kill the fire in him. Indeed, you need it to succeed in sport. There are cases of athletes who forced themselves to hate their opponents so that they were lubed up for battle. But as P Sivakumar, Sreesanth’s mentor, said about him the other day, some things are just “not acceptable.”
So go live in a Kelvinator, Sree. Better still, take one of those fabulous ayurvedic massages in your home state. But calm down.