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'Arjun Tendulkar can be a match-winning bowler'

By HARISH KOTIAN
Last updated on: May 13, 2020 09:56 IST
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'People should have faith in him. Don't compare him with Sachinpaaji.'

Arjun Tendulkar

IMAGE: India Under-19's Arjun Tendulkar bowls during the Youth Test against Sri Lanka Under-19 in July 2018. Photograph: Sri Lanka Cricket/Twitter
 

Just like Virat Kohli, former India fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth wore his passion on his sleeves.

Sreesanth enjoyed bowling against the best, especially against the Australians, who also loved to fight fire with fire.

The Kerala pacer had several on-field battles against the likes of Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist. His famous impromtu dance to celebrate hitting a six off South Africa pacer Andre Nel during a Test in Johannesburg in 2006 still makes for fun viewing on YouTube.

Sreesanth believes India's fast bowling attack is one of the best in the world and it will be hard for any young bowler to break through into the team.

"I believe Bumrah, Ishant, Shami, Umesh, all four can play in the playing XI," Sreesanth tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com in the final part of a revealing interview.

IMAGE: S Sreesanth gives Andrew Symonds a send-off after dismissing him during a One-Day International game against Australia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, October 2, 2007. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

You had some special love for Australian batsmen, especially Matthew Hayden. What is the story behind that? Did the Aussies always try and target because you had the tendency to lose your cool instantly?

I remember Matthew Hayden had said I am a very over rated bowler and I got him out.

I don't know whether you have heard of South African batsman Jacques Rudolph. He scored a double century in his first Test innings on debut.

He was the captain of the South African Lions team when we played in Potchefstroom in 2006. I had just started playing. He gave an interview a day before the match where he said 'Sreesanth, who is he? We are only looking at Zaheer Khan, the other bowlers we have not even heard of them.'

I got him out first ball in the first innings, I got him out second ball in the second innings, then I got him out first ball in county cricket when I played for Warwickshire after three years in 2009 when he captained Yorkshire. Then I got him first ball in the second innings as well.

So I have bowled only five balls to him and I have got his wicket four times, and that was sweet revenge for me.

I don't know whether he is retired or still playing county cricket, but if he is still playing, I will still get him out first ball.

That was the best sledging answer I have given.

And the other sledging incident which everyone knows is the Andre Nel incident. He was telling me 'You don't have a heart, you need a big heart to play for your country, you are a waste of time you ******'.

I used to say that to all the South African players who tried to sledge me, 'Be thankful to Mahatma Gandhi. If Mahatma Gandhi hadn't motivated you, then Nelson Mandela wouldn't have done what he did. So thank Mahatma Gandhi and be greatful to Indians'.

Matthew Hayden was one of the best batsmen in the world at that time, along with Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and it was a real challenge bowling to them and that is what fired me up.

I don't know why, but I just hate the colour yellow. Maybe because they were the World No 1, they were the best of that time. That is why I wanted to perform against them and show them that I was better.

IMAGE: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma pose with the stumps after winning a Test against Australia. Photograph: BCCI

How do you rate this current Indian pace bowling attack in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav?
You wish that you had this sort of careful planning and training in your times for the fast bowling unit to keep you in best shape for the important games?

I am not a huge fan of this planning process. I think you should just play and bowl as much as possible and train hard.

You should know where to draw the line. I am not a huge fan of this system where they say your body needs rest, sometimes it is more than required.

If you look at the great Kapil Dev or Richard Hadlee or Dennis Lillee, they played so much cricket, they used to bowl more than 20 overs a day.

It's not great to be in the comfort zone, I believe you should be comfortable being in the uncomfortable zone.

I am an old school believer, I feel that if someone is bowling well he should train hard and rest well not when the matches are going on, but when the matches are not on.

Injuries are part and parcel of a fast bowler's life. It is not easy to run in and bowl fast.

You cannot get scared and think 'What if I get injured if I bowl?'.

You got to bowl all out, you have to give your very best.

When you are playing for the country, you should think that this is your last game.

I believe Bumrah, Ishant, Shami, Umesh, all four can play in the playing XI.

I would say our bowling attack is one of the best, if not the best.

You also have Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and now someone like Kuldeep Yadav has come in.

It is a great bowling attack, and no chance for any youngster to break into the team at the moment.

I am a huge fan of Punjab fast bowler Siddarth Kaul, then you got two very good fast bowlers from Kerala in Basil Thampi, M D Nideesh. Both are capable of bowling 140kph plus.

I used to really like the left-arm pace bowler Khaleel Ahmed who played a few games for India last year. He can easily improve.

I watched the bowling of Sachinpaaji's son Arjun. I know there is a lot of pressure on him being Sachinpaaji's son, but I think he can be a match-winning bowler.

He has got a brilliant action and few adjustments here and there, and with some matches under his belt, he should make an impact.

People should have faith in him. Don't compare him with Sachinpaaji and I am sure he will agree with that too.

Left-arm fast bowlers are hard to come by, and it is very important to give them chances at a young age, so that they get the exposure, atleast in the IPL or some fast class games or maybe county games.

I am sure if Arjun plays a few years in county cricket, he will be a completely different bowler.

People might think I am saying this because Arjun is Sachinpaaji's son. That is not the case because I genuinely believe that he is very talented.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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