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May 15, 2008
Gary Kirsten, the India coach, is confident Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth will put the slapping incident behind them and get along in the dressing room. Kirsten said both he and Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning coach and trainer, had the expertise to handle the players should any problems arise.
"The idea that it will be a problem having the two of them together in the squad is crazy," Kirsten was quoted as saying in cricketnirvana.com. "I would like to think me and Paddy [Upton] have enough management experience to cope with anything like that, if it ever did become a problem."
Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth after an IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians last month. Harbhajan was banned for 11 IPL games and five one-dayers after pleading guilty, while Sreesanth was let off with a warning. The board warned that Harbhajan could be banned for life if found guilty of another serious offence.
Kirsten said such incidents tend to happen with players who are expressive of their emotions on and off the field. "They are both very passionate cricketers who, ironically, are as similar off the field as on it. On the friendly side of the boundary rope I have found them to be extremely friendly, inoffensive and helpful people. But when they cross the line, literally, they become very passionate and committed, their blood boils quickly in the heat of battle."
Kirsten added that he had a long conversation with Harbhajan, during which he accepted his mistake and was keen to move on.
"I had a long telephone chat to him recently and he knows he made a big mistake. I think he wanted to know where he stood with me and I was able to reassure him that I wanted him in my team.
"He's still concerned but he's desperate to put it behind him and move on. He made a bad error of judgment and he's very determined that it won't happen again. And I think he realises the consequences if it does."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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