'Important for seamers to retain focus' - Sreesanth
Sreesanth, the Indian fast bowler, has said it is important for pace bowlers to maintain their focus in the wake of early success and fame. Speaking to Harsha Bhogle on Cricinfo's audio show Time Out, Sreesanth said it was difficult for India's fast bowlers to make the transition from domestic to international cricket, especially when playing overseas, and added that fear of injury and the urge to play on a long-term basis could be reasons for many promising young seamers to cut down on their pace after the first few games.
"Focus is surely important, but again everyone lives their own personal life as well. As long as he knows the thin line between foolishness and bravery, that is very important," Sreesanth said. "If you have a mentor or someone is looking up for you, with so much of money and entertainment involved, if there is one coach or family member, who actually keeps an eye on the player and if the player is ready to listen to them, you are alright. If you are talented and hardworking, nothing should bother you."
India have used 12 fast bowlers in the 68 ODIs they have played since the start of 2008. When asked if immense pressure to perform was the reason behind many struggling to keep their places in the side, Sreesanth said: "Honestly, you need to be performing rather than complaining. There is stress and there is pressure, especially when you play in Indian conditions. It's actually tough to get on and start performing. It's a challenge for a fast bowler, especially in the Powerplay of a one-day game, but you must endure those stressful moments.
"Maybe the bowlers are planning to play in the long term, maybe 10 to 15 years instead of doing the job that is given to you," Sreesanth said of the reason behind bowlers dropping in pace. "Maybe it's the fear of injury. It's always better to give your best every single day. I think that may be the reason - trying to conserve your energy for the next game than giving your best today."
Sreesanth made his debut against England in March 2006 and starting off his international career in home conditions, he said, made his transition to the highest level easier than for others. "If you're playing in the subcontinent it's a little easier because you've actually played at the Ranji Trophy level," he said. "To cope with the international standards of batsmen, especially with most of them who don't play in the domestic circuit, it's tough for youngsters to come in and do their job. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to make a strong impact in the international circuit straight from the domestic circuit.
"I've been lucky. I remember the first series we played was against England in India. I was lucky enough to bowl on an Indian track and then go abroad."
A balance between both strength and skill is an important ingredient for bowling fast along with accuracy, Sreesanth said. "Gym is very important, strength is surely important. But if you forget your skill…..you've got to work on your wrists, on your bowling and spot-bowling. What we forget after playing for our country is the spot-bowling which we grew up with in the countryside."
Sreesanth's eight-wicket haul in the Johannesburg Test in 2006, which helped India win their first Test in South Africa, is considered to be among his best performances. But he rated his 5 for 75 against Sri Lanka in his comeback Test in Kanpur last year as his best outing.
"I'll rate that performance surely, as it is the only Test we have ever won there," he said of his spell at the Wanderers. "But I think the comeback match against Sri Lanka in Kanpur - that was the best I bowled. I was under a lot of stress and pressure, and I never thought I'll play for India again. Upon getting a chance in Kanpur, on those flattest of tracks, I could get the ball to reverse…I rate that as my best spell."