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Players on their careers and hobbies outside cricket
Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi
How did you get into breakdancing?
As a kid I used to watch this television ad where this black guy kept moving like a robot. I really liked his style and I copied it. I liked the idea of breaking into various hand- and body waves, the ground rotations on the head, and the moonwalk. Later I joined the Boney O group, a dance troupe, where I learned the finer techniques of dancing for two years.
Do you see breakdancing as a sport?
Actually I just focus on the dance part. So it is more of a passion. I forget everything when I am dancing. You should watch me in a disco.
So is the inventor of the moonwalk, Michael Jackson, top of the pops for you?
Definitely. I have all his albums.
Does dancing help your cricket?
Not really. But when we win a game I look forward to a good time dancing, and it is nice to shake off the tension of the game. It helps me relax and release the pressure. To give an example, I was playing my first international on my home ground in Kochi, against England, and I was under pressure playing in front of the home crowd. During our team meeting, which took place in a houseboat, Chappell Sir [Greg Chappell, the coach then] asked me to think of something I did very well. On the way back I started dancing and was joined by the rest, and by the time we returned I was almost pressure-free. We all enjoyed it and the next day we won the game and the series.
Does dancing help your fitness?
Yes, it does. You can easily burn lots of calories when you dance, and it keeps the body supple.
Have you ever breakdanced to celebrate a wicket?
Not breakdance, but during school and first-class games, I would break into a somersault. In Pakistan, during the one-day series in 2006, I celebrated Imran Farhat's wicket by doing a zig-zag move. It has to come from inside. I can't plan.
The crowds seem to love it when you field near the ropes…
Oh yes. They keep asking, "One step, Sree. One step, Sree." And when I do a couple of steps they scream, "Once more." It's nice to have the support. When you are bowling in pressure situations most people say you should concentrate, but enjoying the crowd makes you forget the pressure. In Mumbai once, supporters in the north stand were asking me to do more of the hand waves. It just helped me loosen myself up and go back to the mark and bowl well.
Who are the best movers and shakers in the Indian dressing room?
Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh both have very good moves.
What's your favourite song to breakdance to?
"Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson.
Your favourite step?
The moonwalk. I want to do the moonwalk on the field but with spikes it is not possible.
Did you ever think of taking dancing up as a career?
I used to. Maybe when I'm 35.
Would you like to follow in Darren Gough's footsteps?
He is a dancer? [After having Dazzler's success on Strictly Come Dancing explained] Oh, wow. I would love to do something like that - but not when I am playing cricket.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo
The article first appeared in the Wisden Cricketer in 2006
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