Sreesanth: Small Town Boy Struggles to Cope with Fame

In the midst of the euphoria of India’s recent series victory, Sreesanth rapid deterioration has gone relatively unnoticed. What would otherwise have been major topic of discussion has been sidelined to a supplemental story. India’s best bet to exploit the English conditions was a complete failure. Ganguly had gone as far a referring to him as India’s “dark horse” for the series.

Sreesanth is a classic example of a small town boy who seems to have lost his way in a sea of big money, media, sponsorship and fame. You can’t drive a few kms in Kerala without seeing a hording with Sreesanth on it. Being the lone player from Kerala in a long time, he is heavily sought after by the regional media. The media in Kerala is obsessed with every move of his. Some papers have even reported on what he ate for lunch!!

In his rise to fame, Sreesanth seems to have traded his small town looks for a Bollywood inspired look of stylized hair with highlights, and earned a notoriety for acting tough on the field (the recent needless clash with Vaughan being an example). In the midst of the Test match he was repeatedly seen signing autographs on the fence instead of concentrating on the game. His comments to the media make little sense and in no way displays a deeper understanding of the game (Sreesanth inspired by Ganguly‘s bowling (!!) and his name being Sree Santh as opposed to Sreesanth among the many gaffes with the media). It appears as though he is performing in front of the camera as much as he trying to play the game. It will be interesting to know if Sreesanth ever had a reputation of being tough on the field in the domestic circuit. It won’t come as a surprise if this were not the case.

It is a pity that the young fellow has not been positively influenced by seasoned stars in the team like Sachin, Kumble, Dravid and Ganguly who have their feet firmly planted on the ground while still being superstars in their own right.

The selectors and team management perhaps chose to drop Sreesanth from the ODI team partly because he needed the break both to get his act together and to be brought down to earth. His inclusion in the 20-20 is baffling but quite typical of the selectors. The 20-20 series gives Sreesanth an opportunity to redeem himself in a form of the game that might not suit his natural bowling style which is best suited in Test cricket. The England tour was a completely wasted opportunity in his career. If he continues to focus on the cameras and less on his game, chances are he might be another Kerala born talent on its way to obscurity.

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