"Sreesanth good bowler?", "yes yes". "Do you think he will be able to help the Kochi Tuskers win matches?", 'ok, ok". In Kerala, language often becomes a barrier. But if a question is broken down to monosyllables, one gets the idea that good or bad, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth can't be ignored in God's own country.
Even though the system of having icon players in the IPL franchises has been done away with, Sreesanth is an example of being an icon, without even leading the team.
But over the years, he has somewhat deflated that feeling with his on-field antics - from Harbhajan Singh's slap to the famous bat swinging after hoicking Dale Steyn for a six and the heated argument with Ricky Ponting during the World cup warm-up match, prompting captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to warn him publicly.
"This aspect of Sreesanth irks everybody," said a journalist working in a leading vernacular daily here. "If he is not doing something on the field, he does something off it. Many people don't like his attitude," he added.Sreesanth didn't help his case either in the World Cup. Against Bangladesh in the opening match, he was milked for 53 runs off just five overs. Later, in the final against Sri Lanka, he conceded 52 in eight overs.
"I was focusing on bowling fast, and was quiet successful at it as well," said Sreesanth after his felicitation by the Kerala Cricket Association on Thursday. "But unlike in the ODI series against New Zealand (where he had taken seven wickets in two matches), it wasn't that great in the World Cup. Maybe the break in the South Africa tour didn't do me good."
Sreesanth, however, didn't regret 'being aggressive'. "I can't please everyone," he said, sporting a new cropped look. "I bowl with a lot of passion and that's how I play."
Father, Shanthakumaran Nair, supported him. "He has become a lot calmer. The rare instances of aggression are directed at the opponents," said the 72-yer-old.
"There is no questioning his ability but sometimes, he just loses it," said Siddhique, who works in a local hotel here. "He needs to control his emotions."
The IPL is a golden chance for Sreesanth to make amends. "It's a big responsibility to be able to play a role in the team from my city," he said. And this time, Gary Kirsten is the motivation. "Gary told me I would waste my talent if I don't convert it in ODIs and T20s. So hope I will do better here."