Once while batting with M.S. Dhoni in a losing One-Day International match, S. Sreesanth, who was at the non-striker’s end, got hit on the helmet by a ferocious straight drive from his captain.
In the post-match press conference, Dhoni, frustrated as he was on having to constantly deal with the shenanigans of his temperamental bowler, half jokingly said that his pacer needed such treatment.
On another occasion Dhoni said that Sreesanth should not breach certain limits and should at best irk opponents rather than his own team members.
Those comments from his captain at a time when he was very much part of the Indian squad sum up the career of a boy who had a dream run at the highest level of the game but never really matured to keep it going.
That he failed to develop into a cricketer to be watched for the right reasons despite sharing dressing room space with legendary players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, known for their impeccable behaviour on and off the field, somewhat explains the mess he finds himself in now. Incidentally, he even irked the usually composed Tendulkar into warning him once while bowling at him during a Challenger Trophy.
Despite having a mean out-swinger and a wonderful seam position at the time of delivery that could be the envy of any fast bowler, Sreesanth seemed to be under the impression from the very beginning that being an aggressive bowler meant intimidating the batsmen with verbal volleys and physical postures.
He must have watched the likes of Curtly Ambrose and Glenn McGrath who, more often than not, let the ball do all the talking. McGrath, who did his share of sledging during his days, once commented that Sreesanth’s aggression on the field appeared forced.
Cricket lovers across the country felt ashamed with his reaction on dismissing the burly Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden in an ODI match. His facial expressions and gestures towards a pavilion-bound Hayden and that too after being hit by the opener to all parts of the ground was ugly, to say the least.
Then his aggression met with a similar brand of aggression on the field when he managed to get slapped by his fellow India teammate Harbhajan Singh during an IPL match in front of the crowd in 2009.
To make matters worse, Sreesanth raked up the forgotten ‘slap-gate’ incident through his recent tweet as if in clarification of a few media reports during this edition of the IPL.
His aggression took another manifestation during the last South African tour when he ran around swinging his bat overhead after hitting fast bowler Andre Nel for a straight six.
The tag of a boy who never really grew up almost perfectly captures Sreesanth and an opportunity to amend it seems distant now.