Call for Sreesanth to be banned…


In an article, which one could be easily pardoned for assuming was written from a pedastal placed at 35,000 ft above sea level, former England Test cricketer and former England captain, Michael Atherton — he of sand-in-pocket fame — writes that Sree Santh should be banned for The Oval Test match for the beamer that he bowled in the ill-tempered match at Nottingham.

Now why is it that these former bad boys of cricket consistently sprout a halo on their heads the moment they give up their bats for either a pen or a microphone? Is there an automatic passage of rites that makes them do this? Or is it a necessary condition of employment? Is it written into their contracts that they will submit articles (or spew their nonsense on air) from a pedestal placed at 35,000 ft?

Atherton starts the article with the oldest slant in the writing industry when it comes to comic relief in an otherwise serious article. He says, “One name, though, should be missing from the scorecard, that of Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. Not to save the printing industry some ink, but to send out the message that the beamer has no place in cricket.” That article opener made me lose my respect for the article as well as its writer right there! Making fun of someones’ name is the oldest trick in the book — and the most puerile one too — Atherton! Kids lose this trick when they are about 10 years old! My advice to Atherton — and I feel compelled to do so, really, for it seems that his sub-editor let that through to the print run — would be “If you can’t think of anything really funny to write or say… Just don’t.

The next pragraph in the article convinced me that this was a concerted attack, meant to put the Indians off their game; sensationalism of this ilk could, apart from selling newspapers, easily deflect attention away from Jellygate. In going down this road, Atherton has only shown — to me at least — that he has lost his sense of objectivity.

Atherton thunders that the person responsible for placing these Jelly beans has had a swift reminder that Test cricket, “especially involving India“, is a serious business.

Wrong Athers. Test cricket is serious business regardless of who it involves. It has no place for jelly beans. It has no place for sand in the pocket either! A former England captain should know that Test cricket is serious business. Period. It has nothing to do with the geography, intensity, religion, quality, colour or the seriousness of the opposition. A Test match should be played seriously even if it is between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. I am surprised Atherton hasn’t learned this basic tenet despite his many years of experience as a top-flight cricketer.

However, while cricket does not admit jelly beans or sand-in-pocket, it has admitted — though not condoned — the presence of beamers from day-dot. Can we get that right please, Atherton?

The beamer is a terrible ball. Of that there is no doubt. It has the capacity to decapitate. But there are two aspects about the beamer that are important to note. (a) Whether we like it or not, it does happen. (b) It is incredibly impossible to prove that it was deliberately bowled.

The use of beamers is governed by Law 42.6 of cricket. The offending bowler is no-balled and issued with a warning. A repeat incurs a ban, as was the case with Waqar Younis in the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Typically a beamer is quite hard to bowl because the ball is usually released very early on in the action.

Furthermore, the propensity to bowl beamers increases with sweaty palms and hyperhidrotic bodies — people who sweat profusely. One look at the number of sweat bands Sree Santh wears is enough to suggest that he is perhaps hyperhidrotic. Ditto Brett Lee. Little wonder that Brett Lee and Sree Santh have been recent beamer offenders. Even the great Wasim Akram had a propensity to bowl beamers.

The fact that Atherton appears to have ignored these simple facts as he penned his article suggests to me that he was probably fuelled by his own sense of disappointment at the loss at Nottingham; that he was possibly blinded by his passion for an England win. After all, England had almost won the previous game. After all, England are in danger of losing ground on their admirable home-turf win-record.

If more proof were needed that Athers was fuelled by a deep sense of anger and disappointment at Englands’ loss, it was immediately available in the article. He dismisses Jellygate with a nonchalant wave of his hand. He condones the silly jelly episode by suggesting that it was only a “puerile prank gone wrong; harmless, silly and unlikely to be repeated“.

How does Atherton know that it was only a puerile prank? How does he know that it was unlikely to be repeated? More gallingly, how does he know that Sree Santh’s beamer will be repeated? Does he know that a ball that took off from a jelly bean planted at length would do any less damage than a beamer? And yet, he has been quick to dismiss the jelly bean prank as “harmless, silly and unlikely to be repeated“. Should this man be allowed to write and speak?

The most offending line in Atherton’s article, however, is the one that immediately follows his summary pardon of the English team.

He writes, quite alarmingly that the jelly belly affair was not particularly smart either “since it has alerted everyone to the method used by England to try to induce some extra swing“.

What?

Is he admitting to a theory that has been doing the rounds for many years now? The theory that England’s bowlers have always used performance-altering and illegal substances to alter the swing of the ball? Is that the admission that Atherton has implicitly made? Nathan Bracken was the first to suggest that England bowlers use mints and jelly beans to gain extra reverse swing. Simon Jones and the entire England establishment came down on Bracken like a tonne of bricks and rubbished his outpouring as nothing but sour grapes as a result of The Ashes loss.

With the definitiveness of Athertons’ recent admission (“it has alerted everyone to the method”), there is clearly more to it than meets the eye!

In the presence of such evidence surrounding the presence of jelly beans on the pitch — albeit circumstantial — Atherton’s ability to ignore, pardon and accept this clear breach of the spirit and the laws of the game is beffudling at best and galling, at worst. In the light of this, his persecution of Sree Santh, against whom there is absolutely no evidence of premeditation, shows nothing but the depth of immaturity and a galling sense of imbalance in Atherton.

Using substances such as vaseline, sand, bottle tops, mints and jelly to obtain extra swing goes against the spirit of the game. These are wrongs. There are no two ways about this. Can we get this right please Atherton? The fact that Atherton thinks that England’s jelly tactics in Nottingham was wrong because it merely “alerted” the authorities to something that is perhaps common practice shows Atherton is very very poor light.

One could pursue an angle whereby it could be shown that Atherton, by using his position in high office, has painted himself as an opportunistic and callous individual who is able to turn a blind eye to the misdemeanors of his own tribe while pursuing a vitriolic agenda against a member of an opposing tribe against whom the evidence is absolutely non-existant at best — and at worst, there is some evidence to support pathology around propensity to sweat profusely.

With his inherent ability to turn his eye to a blatant crime, the question I ask is whether or not Atherton should be allowed to wield either the pen or the microphone? I believe there is enough evidence to suggest a state of imbalance, if not at the very least, inordinate bias.

Atherton then thumps the table with this tripe. “But I have no doubt that Sreesanth’s rancorous spell, which included the beamer and the no-ball, was the most glaring example in the match of something that ran completely counter to the spirit of the game. Forget the jellybeans and inane chatter.

Perhaps Sree Santh’s spell was indeed rancorous, spiteful and venenous, although we have no way of proving premeditated rancour. It was certainly ugly. Pietersen was not impressed with the beamer. No batsman will ever be. Pietersen admitted openly to being shaken and imbalanced by the beamer. It was a terrible passage in play. It did not look pretty at all. Of that I have no doubt. But how did all of this translate into Atherton having “no doubt” that it was the most glaring example of something that ran against the spirit of the game? Where is the evidence? Where is the proof? The evidence that England did something against the spirit of the game was there for everyone to see — jelly beans. The evidence that Sree Santh did something against the spirit of the game was there for everyone to see — shoulder-barging. Where is the evidence of premeditation in the ugly beamer that Sree Santh churned? Nothing. If anything, there is evidence to the counter — the inordinately large surface area of the sweat bands on his body; enough at least to suggest a hyperhidrotic state.

A mother can forgive any misdemeanor by her own child, but would readily spew sanctimony spurred by juices of mistrust when it comes to her neighbours’ child.

Nothing proves this more than Athertons’ tripe.

— Mohan

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14 responses to “Call for Sreesanth to be banned…

  1. When has an Englishman been objective.They are the whiners when it comes to cricket.

    Calculated or by accident,the beamer won us the Test.

    By the way, let us not forget that Srresanth was in the forefront of our last two overseas wins .

    I think we should not subdue him. Let him be aggressive. Tell me where is it written that Indians have to be gentleman.

    Sreesanth – let it rip.

  2. I agree Atherton is raising up the ante before the next batch to have a potentially good bowler benched on a bouncy wicket ! Some cricket is played on the wicket and there is some gamesmanship on paper before the match.

    SreeSanth can be a good bowler on a bouncy wicket. There is no doubt SreeSanth created trouble for himself.

    Proof :

    Of all the fast bowlers who bowled in 2007, how many have bowled a no balls two foot beyond the line. If we can get such a statistic, then we can be sure. If you miss the run-up, then you stop, go back and restart.

  3. What you’ve pointed out is an observation, not proof. We can build several hypothesis around that observation. None of that will ever be conclusive.

    If you think that that is proof, think again. That is, at best, an observation that supports a possible hypothesis that Sree Santh is a bit of a git.

    Moreover, there is evidence even in the very first over that Sree Santh missed his run up and yet continued through to complete the ball. On that occasion, Strauss pulled out of the ball, only to realise that Sree Santh was still coming in to bowl! So, perhaps one can construct a hypothesis that Sree Santh does not like pulling out of deliveries.

    So that data point could be offered as an background example in support of the two-foot-wide no-ball.

    But the two-foot-wide no-ball is not in question. Atherton wants him banned for the beamer. And for that the evidence is nothing. Just some air-play from Atherton when he has himself turned a blind eye to the misdemeanors of his own England!

    Moreover, is it illegal to bowl a 2-feet-over no ball? No. If so, show me the law.

    Is it illegal to adopt a swing-altering substance (bottle-top, vaseline, jelly beans, mint) on the ball? Yes. Circumstantial evidence and Atherton’s statement on “alerting authorities” suggests that the England bowlers may have cheated.

    Ban the jelly bean offender, I say!

  4. sampath kumar

    My wife’s(who is English) brother -in-law’s cousin’s mother-in-law heard this conversation at a Pub in Oxford St, last evening.

    England’s 12th man planted the jelly beans, so that when Z Khan picks them up and throws out, they were to be collected for the finger prints, sent to Sotland Yard and Guindy Lab (old Madras) that analysed Tony Greig’s Vaseline on the forehead in 1960s and virtually NAB Z Khan for tampering the ball while bowling–to compare the finger prints on the ball from the previous innings. It takes two weeks for the analysis–by then the next test will be over–if found guilty, Z Khan will have to seek a Royal Pardon before leaving England.

  5. Atherton is absolutely right. Sreesanth should be banned. You see, the English would never do a thing like bowling beamers or bouncers.

    The Indians on the other hand are planning on setting a leg side field and bowling bouncers (& beamers) and are going to target at hitting the batsmen (rather than get them out). They have even come up with a name for it – Bodyline

    😀

  6. OK. Before someone starts flaming me, the previous comment was made in jest 😉

  7. Atherton has lost his mind and senses and perhaps thats why he is talking crap and nonsense. he calls for beamers to be banned when Santh delivers it but he conviniently chooses to be mum on Harmison bowling the same delivery to Ponting at Adelaide 2006. And he shamelessly mentions on his post that the only time he saw a beamer in int’l cricket was when McGrath bowled to some one. Didnt he see Harmison bowl the same thing to Ponting from the sky sports commentary box.

    The same man speaks about cricket spirits when this man called a Pak journalist a buffoon (now I see him as a buffoon) and was caught with dirt in his pocket to change the shape of the ball 14 yrs back as a captain of his team.

    Is that within the spirtis of the game ?

  8. While I haven’t any bones to pick if someone wants to air his views, everyone has a right express themselves, this seems like an ex-captain’s one last hurrah towards a knighthood.

    A few vertebrae of iron innings thrown together in a bin of sawdust wasn’t going to get him to be called Sir Michael, which anyway is already taken. He hasn’t walked his way for charity, and an Ashes Knight he isn’t. So what does he do when other-Michael Vaughan just wants to get on with it?

    Play a tabloid knock from the exalted altitudes you mention in your article of course! If the slimmest chance of the ruse succeeding comes about (Sreesanth does worry the English bats more than others for non-technical reasons), Walt Whitman’s poem could be easily re-written to O Captain! My ex-Captain!…in a salutation of his batting for England from the sidelines.

    A knighthood from there is merely a hop away.

  9. England have not taken the defeat at the hands of India in the second test in the sporting sense. It is one thing to be trashed by Australia down under. It is quite another thing for the English team to be beaten at home by India.

    First there were assertions by players and also the coach of the England cricket team over the sledging accusations. Even a player of the stature of Matt Prior doesn’t feel bad about the sledging. The coach Peter Moores dismisses such allegations. Collingwood is not ashamed at the jellybeans thrown by some his teammates at the Indian players.

    But the cake should go to Mike Atherton, the former captain of the England team and now a media professional. It is right for Atherton to go hammer and tongs at Sreesanth for his boorish behaviour during the test. Sreesanth bowled a beamer at Kevin Pietersen and then shoulder barged Michael Vaughan. Such behaviour should not be condoned by any means. Atherton is not happy with the punishment meted out to Sreesanth. The former skipper wants Sreesanth to be dropped from the third test. Sreesanth looks most likely to be dropped given his shoddy efforts in the match. It is true that the match referee Ranjan Madugalle took a rather lenient view of the whole Sreesanth. But what authority does Atherton have to talk about a tougher punishment?

    Atherton himself is someone who does not have the moral authority to sermonize. This same gentleman was once caught by cameras taking sand from his trouser pocket and applying the same to a ball during the course of a test. Then the punishment was not severe, by today’s standards. Probably that is the reason for the present outburst. If Sreesanth’s bowling a beamer was ‘rancorous’, then what should we call Atherton’s behaviour? Sreesanth can walk away from the controversy on the pretext of an accidental act, while Atherton does not have that kind of a luxury.

    In a one dayer prior to the Ashes of 2005, Simon Jones hurled the ball at Matthew Hayden when the batsman was not even attempting a run. The ball hit the shoulder of Hayden. The whole of the English media praised this incident as the ‘aggression’ of the English team.

    Clearly, it is a case of different strokes for different people.

    Not brand me a racist, just yet.

  10. Vengsarkar and co have listened to Atherton–and are sending Sreesanth back to Kottayam for a few Idiyappams after the Third Test—-NOT in the ODI list

    But will be going to South Africa for Twenty/20 Tournament

    Horses for courses??

  11. Hey,

    I’m doing my masters in journalism from ACJ, Chennai. I was given an assignment to look up blogs and rate them. Now, i know that I have absolutely no authority to do that, but as far as i’m concerned, your blog (and this article) are amongst the best peices of cricket writing i’ve come across so far! I’ve looked at about 23 blogs so far, by the way!

    I like what you said about Atherton’s comments (“puerile prank gone wrong; harmless, silly and unlikely to be repeated“) Now, I happened to be watching the match. The incident was bad enough, this attempt to justify it only makes it worse.

    All of his attempts at justification are incredibly absurd, and I think the English cricketers (Atherton included) need a crash course in being ‘good losers’

    The other thing is the ‘2 foot no-ball’!? Is that what we are calling it!? Oh well, if gentlemen can throw jelly beans on the pitch (and that is OK, coz my nephew who turns two next month often does it too), gentlmen can also overstep by a mile…

    It’s sad, though, that certain people try to mar the experience of what was otherwise the perfect test match, just because one team was ‘out played, out performed, and thrashed’ by another team that doesn’t ‘travel particularly well’…

  12. I got an email (with which I fully agree) goes something like this “Srisanth should not be in the team for the Oval test. His no ball looked deliberate as a petulant reaction to denial of his appeal for caught behind. When he reacts like that, people may wonder whether the beamer also was intentional”.
    His attitude is unbecoming at this level of the game.

  13. Pingback: Are we balanced or biased? « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

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