Played tennis ball tournament under brother's name to prepare for 2007 T20 WC: Sreesanth
- S Sreesanth reveals lack of turf pitches and exclusion from ODI series in England made him take the step to avoid Kerala Cricket Association's ban.
- S Sreesanth says he took the step in order to prepare for the T20 World Cup in 2007.
Mumbai: Former India bowler S Sreesanth has revealed that he played a tennis ball tournament under the name of his dead brother, Jaykrishnan, to prepare for the 2007 T20 World Cup. He said he did so because there were no turf pitches in Kerala to help him prepare for the first-ever T20 World Cup, held in South Africa.
S Sreesanth was speaking to senior cricket journalist Chandresh Narayanan, in a new series of interviews released on YouTube called Cow Corner Chronicles with Chandresh.
"I was lucky. I always look to positive side. I don't dwell too much on things you lose or you can buy again. My father has always said that you can miss one train, two train but you can catch the next train. It is very important for me to take it in the right spirit," recalled S Sreesanth.
The former India bowler used the time then to play tennis ball tournament for a local club called Sun CC Edapally.
"I came back home. It was Onam season I remember. I went and played all the tennis ball tournaments. Being Sreesanth Association was not really supportive in the one way. We are not allowed to play tennis ball matches (by Kerala Cricket Association). So I played in the name of Jayakrishnan, who is my late brother. One of my late brother who really supported me. They had no records that Sreesanth played! So they (KCA) couldn't ban me. Otherwise I would not have played the T20 World Cup (in 2007)," revealed S Sreesanth.
But the 37 year old says that him playing the tennis ball tournament was the worst kept secret. "They all knew I played. But they have no records. There was only scorecard which said Jayakrishnan four wickets, Jayakrishnan 28 runs. So I played a lot of tennis ball games, just to get the anger out of my head. That was because my elder brother pushed me. I used to play for this team called Sun CC Edapally, next to my house. We used to play matches from 7pm to 7 am. So we used to play all night. Everyone would come and shout during the tournament to say:'India's scored this much'. I would say it is okay, I am not playing. That attitude in the sense, in one way was good one way was bad because at the end of the day you are a cricket lover. That was an experience for me," S Sreesanth added.
Post the tennis ball tournament, S Sreesanth even remembers rolling out matting pitches to prepare because there were no turf pitches then in Kerala.
"After that I remember rolling matting wicket, tying the mat because there was no turf wicket in Kerala at that point of time, except in Ranji Trophy matches. So I used to go to Bharat Petroleum ground with the coach of Kerala at the time P Balendran Sir, who used to help me fix the mat with some boys. Imagine I am going for the World Cup and the team is playing in England and I am one of those who is going to play the World Cup for India with no proper turf wicket to bowl on! That is why I played a lot of matches. I played a lot of six over eight over matches because I thought I will get a lot of experience. We won a lot of matches. That gave me the confidence.," said S Sreesanth.
The Kerala fast bowler was banned for being in involved in spot fixing in 2013 while playing for Rajasthan Royals, along side Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila. S Sreesanth's ban has since been lifted by the Supreme Court and he is available to play for Kerala again in the domestic circuit.
At the 2007 T20 World Cup, S Sreesanth picked six wickets from seven matches at an economy of 7.95. S Sreesanth believes his experience of playing tennis ball matches helped him bowl well in the tournament, starting from the first game against Pakistan.
"In fact if you remember in the first match of the T20 World Cup against Pakistan, you can ask Dhoni bhai also, I told him give me the last over to bowl. They needed two runs off one ball. If we had lost, we would have been out, because the first match against Scotland had been washed out. That is when I told myself that this is a tennis ball match. No one is going to help you. I remembered then that I played tennis ball matches with one run required off one over, and had picked up three wickets with a light weight tennis ball. I told myself before the last ball against Pakistan in the group stage, that this ball has a lot more weight than tennis ball, so I can bowl fast. I used the tennis ball technique, because I went round the stumps. It was the first global T20 tournament so a lot of people were not aware of bowling round the wicket. I had played a lot of tennis ball cricket, so that really helped me. Misbah would never have thought that I would come round the wicket," recalled S Sreesanth.
Pakistan needed one run off the final ball and that is when S Sreesanth said he used his tennis ball experience to good use.
"When Misbah missed the penultimate ball, I walked back and said don't think just run in and bowl fast. I told myself this is a tennis ball tournament, no one can hit you. And this is a Pakistani so he definitely cannot hit you. That tennis ball tournament which I played in hatred towards the game or should I say to keep myself fit because there were no facilities here. That was the best part, I was going to play the World Cup and there was no turf pitch here in Ernakulam. I had to somehow get into that zone, of lot of people watching you. You will not believe in tennis ball tournaments here nearly 2000-5000 people turn up to watch at that time. Now it is a lot more. They would gather around the ground and even abuse you: 'If you do not win, we will hit you'. It is at a different level altogether. So I think that helped me in that match," reckoned S Sreesanth.Published 20 May 2020, 15:25 IST