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Sreesanth ready for England
The Cricket Interview

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February 25, 2006

Having forced his way into the Test squad, India's pace rookie S Sreesanth [Images] has devised a plan for the English batsmen and believes that he could provide a much-needed variety to the left-arm oriented pace bowling attack.

S SreesanthThe Kerala [Images] player, who was picked for the first Test after his impressive performance in the one-dayers against Pakistan, said he was looking at making the most of the opportunity if given a chance.

"I have got some plans for the Englishmen but I have to work on that. I am not going to take any particular batsman because I have just been picked in the squad. If I play I would wish I get all the 10," the 24-year-old said in an interview to PTI.

"It would be a great opportunity. All I can say at this moment is that I can do justice if I am selected," he said.

Sreesanth, who once had bade farewell to cricket only to embrace it later, said it should not be a worry to the Indian team that they did not have a genuine speedster like Brett Lee [Images] or Shoaib Akhtar [Images] in its ranks.

"I don't think bowling fast is important. I am sure Irfan can bowl at 140 kph if he is in good rhythm. I have bowled 145 kph in Sri Lanka [Images]. Munaf (Patel) bowled 146 kph (in the tour game against England [Images]). There are bowlers (who can bowl quick)," he said.

The Malayalee's journey from a tennis ball cricketer to a professional cricketer playing for India has seen many twists and turns.

Sreesanth, who started his career as a leg-spinner idolising Anil Kumble [Images], thought that the natural aggression in him turned him into a seamer.

"For the last six years I have been bowling fast and even when I was a leg spinner I had the aggression of a fast bowler. More like Anil (Kumble) bhai."

"I copied Anil bhai's action. I just loved the way he bowled. I remember his six for 12 in the Hero Cup in 1993."

And he feels that the changeover had helped him a lot.

"It is helping me a lot because whenever I am told something, I am learning fast. If Chappell sir says why don't you try this, I try it straight away. It's like a movie directing you how to do it. By God's grace I am able grasp it," he said.

Born in Kakur in Ernakulam district, Sreesanth did not get to see much cricket action in his childhood. It was only through the print medium that he got to know all news about his favourite sport.

"The first cricket news I remember reading was about the record partnership between Sachin 'paaji' and Vinod Kambli," he said.

He moved to Cochin for primary education and the port city provided him the first brush with competitive cricket.

Initially he played a lot of tennis ball cricket which helped him add pace and bounce to his bowling in the years to come.

"Earlier, I played a lot of tennis ball cricket. It helped me get that bounce and pace," Sreesanth said.

However, the seeds of an international player were sown in Sreesanth in Bangalore where he was the sports captain of Florence school and led the football, badminton, hockey and cricket teams.

"When I was in 10th class, I was 4' 8", so you can understand why I was bowling leg spin. Then more performance started coming my way," he remembered.

A return to Cochin for higher education, however, seemed to have brought the full-stop to his cricketing ambitions.

"I had missed out on selection for the age group Karnataka teams and when I came back to Cochin, I was not selected for the district team. So I thought why play at all?"

Thus, Sreesanth gifted away all his cricket gear and decided to concentrate on studies.

Sreesanth's natural ability resurfaced in an inter-school competition of Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan when he won the player of the tournament award.

"Guess what I got as prize? A cricket kit," a thrilled Sreesanth recalled the moment after which he never looked back.

Reminiscing the days when cricket was just a madness for him than a career, Sreesanth relived his passion for the game which drove him crazy.

"Tennis ball cricket under lights at 2'O clock in the night was fun. There used to be so much crowd for those matches, more than for Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy. Even last year I played a tournament," he said.

Later, his serious pursuing of cricket started when he was selected for the Kerala under-19 team and in the match against Karnataka he picked a hat-trick.

Kerala lost the match but for Sreesanth won a stint with the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai which saw him go to Australia as part of an exchange programme with Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy.

Down Under, he was the leading wicket-taker in an Institute Challenge Series and that marked a major shift in his cricket.

"There I changed from a leg spinner to a fast bowler. I realised I had a chance," he said.

Sreesanth said he would respond positively to the pressure of becoming only the second cricketer from his state to make it to the Indian team.

"All Malayalees are talking about Tinu (Yohannan) and comparing me with him," Sreesanth said.

"People who don't talk about cricket are talking about me. So I am in a bit of pressure but I want to continue what I am doing. I love this game, so I just want to continue enjoying it."

Sreesanth is not your everyday cricketer. Apart from being an excellent all-round sportsman, he is also an avid reader and enjoys dancing.

"I read motivational books and autobiographies. 'Art of Fast Bowling' by Dennis Lillee, 'Sunny Days' and that kind of stuff. Even if it is a newspaper article, I read it straight away."

The paceman, who carries a laptop with him, said he liked to watch the footage of the good balls he bowled on his laptop to gained confidence from those.

"I basically carry it to see the video of the batsmen. But I never see the bad balls I have bowled, I always see the balls that beat the batsmen, the ones which gave me the wickets, and those I think I bowled beautifully," he added.

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