IndiBlogger - The Indian Blogger Community Vilakudy Days: January 2007

Vilakudy Days

Monday, January 08, 2007


The Mid Day, Bombay’s most influential tabloid, ran a front-page headline: “Move over Mammooty and Mohanlal, Sreesanth has arrived.” Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle were heard on TV saying Sree is the most popular Malayalee in Kerala. All this happened after the Kerala speedster ripped through the South African top-order at the Wanderers. I wondered: Was it so? I never knew. Then some of my colleagues started congratulating me on behalf of Sreesanth just because I am from Kerala. They asked me if he was a superstar in Kerala. I said ‘No;. Sreesanth was suddenly the talking point. But frankly, I was not excited. Nor am I a fan of Sreesanth. If I love and admire anyone in this Indian team, it is only one man: the courageous Sourav Chandidas Ganguly. Let me not talk about Dada. No blogger can capture his determination and passion.

Is Sreesanth the most popular Keralite? No. Days after the Wanderers Test, a Malayala Manorama poll named Achutanandan, the Kerala Chief Minister, newsmaker of the year. I was not surprised. Nor did my friends. Many Keralaites (maybe few) whom I talked were not impressed with Sreesanth’s attitude and behaviour. The way he behaves himself at public functions in Kerala left many Keralites completely angry. At a public function, he demanded more security for himself from no less than a DGP, seeking more policemen for his protection. What did he think? Would the crowd have attacked him? No way.
The irony is even in the Indian dressing room, he does not find many friends. Though his performance in South Africa may have changed other players’ perception towards him to an extent, it still lingers. According to a Bombay-based newspaper, Harbhajan Singh, another controversial figure in Indian cricket for his outbursts, gave Sreesanth a dressing down at the dressing room after Sreesanth sledged Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag in the Challenger Trophy. I don’t know how many people have seen him taking on the “gentleman” Sachin Tendulkar. It was like this: Sachin defended two balls in a row. An excited or angry or arrogant Sreesanth went up to Sachin and mocked at him: “Why don’t you hit me?” Sreesanth, I have seen it, came dangerously close to Sachin, and stared at him. Sachin was taken for surprise. Why the kid is behaving like this? He would have mumbled. The gentleman he is, Sachin remained calm. Sreesanth was inviting trouble. And Sachin let the bat to do the talking. The next ball, Sachin stepped out and hit Sree for a huge six; then went up to him and said, “Don’t ever come this near to me.” Later, he also abused Sehwag, who hit two boundaries off his bowling. He asked Sehwag, “Why don’t you hit boundaries like this in International Cricket? That was a kid asking a great cricketer like Sehwag. In the evening, back in the dressing room, it was Harbhajan who put Sreesanth in his place. He was dropped from the team. According to Bombay sports journalists, it was not purely because of his performance, but on factors like this as well.
Dada was arrogant, but not against his own teammates. He was at his aggressive best against Steve Waugh and Andrew Flintoff. Not against his teammates and not against some tail-enders. Giving the devil its due, in the current form, he is the best bowler in the country after Zaheer Khan. The six priceless wickets at Johannesberg gifted India a rare victory overseas. The ball he dismissed the world’s best batsman Brian Lara in the West Indies tour was a peach of a delivery that took Lara by complete surprise.

Here is another tale. Soon after he got a place in Indian team and tasted the initial success, our man suddenly thought of changing his name. Again according to sports journalists in Bombay, he is obsessed with superstitions. He went and met a leading tarot reader in Bombay and changed his name from Shantakumaran Sreesanth to Sreesunth. He messaged to leading sports reporters in Bombay about his name-change. If you did not notice, he made two minor changes for better luck and prosperity. First, he dropped his father’s name. Then, he changed that ‘a’ to ‘u’. The world was informed through the media, but not his parents. Only when some reporter called up his home to confirm the news, his parents came to know about it. His father reportedly cried and called up his son and asked him to revert to his original name. That is how Sreesunth again became Sreeanth. Even Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi reported the tamasha. Another Kerala scribe tells me how he started ignoring ex-BCCI official SK Nair, who was instrumental in pushing him to the national level , after getting into Team India. That is thanklessness at its best.

Probably, this is why he has not yet been a huge favourite among Keralites. Kerala, I have a feeling, does not like arrogant upstarts like him. Prithviraj, despite his terrific acting skills, is yet to strike a chord among Malayalees. The young suave actor had a vitriolic attack on Mohanlal and Mammooty even before he set his feet firmly on the Malayalam silver screen. Kerala loves open-hearted, less-arrogant, modest, but strong personalities. That is why the affable Achuthanandan, not the powerful Pinarayi, is the favourite politician even at 89. That is also why Mohanlal, at 45 +, remains Kerala’s Numero Uno actor. Sreesanth has a long, long way to go before becoming Kerala’s THE poster boy.