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`Let's not get technical'

Srikkanth the man is as lively and entertaining as his cricket, STAN RAYAN finds out.

ONE COULD easily imagine him in the MGR and M.N.Nambiar mould. The sabre-rattling type. Not for him the quiet defensive stay at the crease, addressing balls slowly, prodding and pushing.

Kris Srikkanth was one man who believed that every ball was to be hit. And to be hit hard too. With his entertaining and explosive style of cricket, the former India captain was the darling of the crowds in his heyday.

The other day, as he signed cricket bats and posed for photos at the LG Electronics' dinner for its customers and dealers at Kochi's Taj Malabar, one realised that Srikkanth hasn't changed one bit.

And it did not come as a surprise when the former India opener said that he did not believe in `computer coaching' in cricket. "I don't believe in using computers to analyse players or to plan match strategies. With so much experience behind them, I feel coaches and players should just go by their instincts," said Srikkanth, a star of the 1983 World Cup, which India won.

"How could you blame Sehwag and Laxman for those shots against Pakistan (in the recent ICC Champions Trophy), which many thought were insensible? I wouldn't blame the players. Since you have a fielder on a particular spot, can you tell the player that he has to turn the angle by some 20 or 30 degrees during a particular stroke," asked Srikkanth even as he munched on the tiny and tasty potato samosas on offer.

"After all the computer study, when it comes to actual play, only a player can decide which stroke he should play. And imagine how it would be if all the coaches start using laptops," said the Chennai-based star, who scored his only overseas Test century against Australia in 1986.

Srikkanth is not new to Kochi. In fact, he was a big hit at the Pooja all-India tourney, the annual event organised by the Tripunithura Cricket Club. "I used to come to Tripunithura regularly from 1979 to 1984. And I still remember the small ground and the large crowds," said Srikkanth about the event, one of the oldest limited-over tournaments in the country. Domestic cricket was a big hit those days. "We used to have big crowds for the Ranji Trophy in Chennai those days," he said.

As he spoke, Srikkanth strayed further down memory lane. "When I was in the ninth standard, I often used to watch Ranji and Duleep Trophy matches at Chepauk (in Chennai). Those days, I was crazy about getting autographs. And I got them from Farokh Engineer, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath and S.Venkataraghavan. Later, I was thrilled when I began playing with many of these people," said Srikkanth, in his inimitable style. Viv Richards and Viswanath are his favourite players.

With cricket being a thriving industry in the country, TV commentary and penning newspaper columns keep Srikanth very busy these days. He also has a marketing business to look after. He has no plans to take up coaching, though his sons Aditya and Anirudh are upcoming players and play for the Mambalam Mosquitoes in Chennai. "Anirudh is trying to be like me. But I've not thought about coaching though I often pass a few tips to my sons," says Srikkanth. Aditya led Tamil Nadu to a South Zone junior title in Kochi a few years ago.

Speaking about MGR and Nambiar, Srikkanth played a small role in a popular Tamil movie, `Pirayamana Thozhi', recently. And though he would have looked a natural in Kollywood, the Chennai star does not have the time to experiment with new things now.

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