The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bindaas Sreesanth almost quit in 2004

Calcutta: Sreesanth’s persona suggests he’s absolutely bindaas, but he’s quite a private person.

Sample this:

Kochi’s favourite son regularly pens an emotional diary and is into poetry. He’s fond of sketching as well and, not too long ago, idol Dennis Lillee was pleased to see the way he’d been depicted.

The burly Australian promptly autographed that sketch.

In fact, Sreesanth’s diaries, poems and sketches travel with him.

“I often refer to an old diary or some poem… That’s me, you know,” he told The Telegraph.

Sreesanth didn’t make the XI against Bangladesh, but his World Cup debut can’t be far away.

Actually, Sreesanth almost quit cricket after being dropped for Kerala’s last Ranji match of the 2004-05 season, versus Jammu & Kashmir.

He was just 21 then.

However, veteran state-mate K.N. Ananthapadmanabhan talked him out of acting impulsively and, that December evening, Sreesanth made a passionate entry in his diary.

He headlined it ‘I’m going to play the (2007) World Cup’.

“Being omitted was my lowest moment, for I’d taken a dozen wickets in the earlier matches… But I still set sights on the World Cup… I had no clue how I would make it, but promised myself that I would stop thinking negatively,” Sreesanth revealed.

It worked wonders.

Indeed, ten months after being dropped from the Kerala XI, Sreesanth made his ODI debut, against Sri Lanka in Nagpur.

Today, he’s in the West Indies!

Sreesanth had been omitted (“Perhaps, I needed to be left out”) from the last big tournament, the Champions Trophy, but got a call-up as a replacement for the injured Ajit Agarkar.

Thereafter, he was splendid in South Africa (MoM in the memorable Johannesburg Test) and his attitude helped confirm a World Cup berth.

“I would rather have somebody I have to pull back than somebody whom I have to keep pushing and motivating… I’m not convinced he (Sreesanth) won’t play an important role for us in the World Cup… He’s an exceptional kid,” is what coach Greg Chappell said in the lead-up to Team India’s departure.

While waiting for a look-in, Sreesanth can at least draw confidence from that.

Incidentally, poor-on-resources Indians freed from jail in Dubai (and wanting to return home) will be praying that he quickly makes his World Cup debut.

For, in an unusual move, a menswear chain in that Emirate has offered to sponsor 11 tickets for the flight home for every wicket taken by Sreesanth.

It’s an unprecedented humanitarian gesture but, then, Sreesanth is no run of the mill cricketer either.

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