Allan Donald, the former South African fast bowler, has said that if Sreesanth wants to play for India again he needs to change his habits. Donald, 42, who recently ended his term as coach at Warwickshire, the county where Sreesanth played earlier this English summer, was blunt in his appraisal of the fast bowler, saying it was high time he backed up his showmanship with bowling form.
"Just in terms of his desire, and if he has got any ambitions of playing for India for a long, long time, he should his change his habits," Donald told Cricinfo. Donald arrived in India on Thursday and will shuttle between Delhi and Hyderabad as part of the commentary team for the Champions League Twenty20.
He said he had recommended Sreesanth's name to the management at Warwickshire to make up for the absence of genuine fast bowlers like Brett Lee and Morne Morkel, who were busy on national duties earlier this summer. "He really bowled some good spells and got wickets in clusters of two here and there, and in terms of the outcome of the game it played a massive part," Donald said.
Sreesanth started his campaign on a prosperous note, picking up a five-for in his first game. Thereafter, he continued with the good work, though he never hit full throttle, before returning to India with returns of 22 wickets in 10 games.
Donald was well aware of Sreesanth's abilities with the ball and his excitable nature, having witnessed the Indian's spectacular performance in the Johannesburg Test in 2006, where he took five wickets and helped India to a dramatic victory. "We wanted someone who could overstep the line a little bit and we know how Sreesanth can do that. But I knew I could control him, and we chatted about it quite a lot."
Donald said they had extensive talks about the training routine, and reckoned Sreesanth had plenty of areas to work on. "First of all, his training habits are not good and the way he goes on to the field need to change. Then, he doesn't put enough time on specifics."
Donald also said Sreesanth needed to work on his attitude, and his tendency to lose the plot when things didn't go his way. "I know he is aggressive, he is passionate and I know he just boils over with emotions in the heat of the battle. There is nothing wrong with that but I just think sometimes he lets himself down."
At the start of the Irani Cup last week, Sreesanth declared his intentions of working hard to keep himself calm. By the end of the game he had been fined 60% of the match fee for using abusive language against Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni.
Donald said coaches and team-mates were bound to get frustrated with Sreesanth's temperament, and that he was likely to fall out of line with the team management as well. "It is frustrating in a way. I do have a problem with that because it is not the real him," Donald pointed out. "It is false in the way he conducts himself. You need to be in serious form to back your body language. Off the field he is a little kitten - he speaks the right thing, comes and says 'sorry for this and that'. But my message to him is he cannot come off the field and apologise. It is too late."
Regarding Sreesanth's bowling technique, Donald has only one concern - that his front arm comes down too fast down. "He has got a slight technical glitch where he sits back and doesn't really use his front arm well, which makes him swing the ball a bit early."