`I have always dreamt of playing for the country and am lucky to have worn the India cap'
NEW DELHI: "Heads on shoulders. Feet on earth." A simple reminder from his mother and mentor keeps cricketer, poet and a compulsive dreamer, S. Sreesanth, focussed on the next assignment.
"My mother reminds me to be humble every time I do well. Mr. Dennis Lillee too says the same. I also know that one is known only by his last performance. There can be no compromise on consistency," he admits honestly.
A mad fan of Sachin
Life changed dramatically for Sreesanth from the time he got the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar during the last Challenger Series. "It was unforgettable, especially because I have been a mad fan of Sachin from the time I remember. I used to paint MRF on my bat as a school cricketer and imitate his mannerisms. I wanted to bat like him. Having watched him from close quarters now, I want to emulate his patience and perseverance,' says Sreesanth, who has gained by observing and learning from his seniors.
His day begins at 5, even during off-season. "We learnt to rise early at MRF." Meditation for mental toughness and exercises to develop physical strength and endurance are part of his daily routine. "Patience is a must," he stresses, for Greg Chappell told him, "a fast bowler with patience is dangerous."
Sreesanth's rise has been meteoric for those who are not aware of the youngster's hard work in the last three years. Experts knew he had the potential but it needed the backing of Lillee for Indian cricket to discover the force that he has developed into. A hamstring injury nearly ruined his career two years ago but he fought back, and with an effective out-swinger as his potent weapon gained respect on the domestic circuit.
`Why Not You' was the title of the book that Sreesanth claims changed his attitude to the game. "It taught me to achieve my dreams," he says. Former Test fast bowler Abey Kuruvilla presented him with Rudy Webster's classic work named `Winning Ways'. It revolutionised his approach to cricket. "A bad day does not make me feel I have been a waste and a good day does not mean I walk around like a peacock with my collars up. Every day is a learning process in cricket and I am always prepared for the good and the bad day."
"I thank god for my success. I always dreamt of playing for the country and I am lucky to have worn the India cap. To me the honour of representing the country remains the most priceless moment of my life," says the youngster, whose humility is worth emulating for some of his colleagues in the Indian team.
Former India fast bowler T.A. Sekhar too has played a big role in shaping Sreesanth's career. Known for his technical excellence in grooming fast bowlers, Sekhar does not tire of reminding Sreesanth to remain "humble."
Sreesanth's versatile character is reflected in the daily diary that he pens with notes on his cricket and life. And then there is poetry, inspirational and romantic, to be pursued. For long, he has been writing poems, including one on Tinu Yohannan, the first cricketer from Kerala to play in a Test. "I will publish my poetry one day. I would love to be known as a cricketer who is a poet," is his newest dream.
The fast bowler who has inspired kids in Kerala, home of athletics, to take to cricket in a big way had always wanted to become "famous" because his actor-sister (Nivedita) and playback singer brother-in-law (Madhu Balakrishnan) were well-known names. "I wanted it (fame) badly because this recognition is priceless," he confesses.
His dream has taken shape and Sreesanth is indeed a role model at 22 with head on shoulders and feet on earth, as desired by his mother and mentor.