Interview | I want to leave a legacy and set fresh benchmarks: Sreesanth

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Subhayan ChakrabortyUpdated: Jul 06, 2020, 07:48 PM IST


Story highlights

In an exclusive chat with WION, Sreesanth opened up about life in lockdown, training phase, what goals he has set for himself, changing landscape of cricket, IPL 2020, Michael Jordan's mental conditioning coach Tim Grover, his ultimate Team India XI (present) and much more.

Sreesanth is all set to make his comeback to the cricket field after a seven-year-break. The 37-year-old's aspiration to be back on the field was bolstered by Kerala coach Tinu Yohanan's words of motivation and the right-handed seamer is looking forward to hitting the ground running and help Kerala win trophies in the domestic circuit. With lofty goals and passion, Sreesanth is gearing up to bridge the lost gap while learning and sharing his experience with the young guns of Indian cricket.

In an exclusive chat with WION, Sreesanth opened up about life in lockdown, training phase, what goals he has set for himself, changing landscape of cricket, IPL 2020, Michael Jordan's mental conditioning coach Tim Grover, his ultimate Team India XI (present) and much more.


Subhayan Chakraborty: Thank you Sreesanth for your time, how did the lockdown phase go for you?

Sreesanth: It’s treating me well. I did say that people need to stick to their house to curb the spread and honestly, there are certain jobs which can be done from home. But imagine me, I have been in lockdown for close to seven years now. I missed the thing I love – play cricket. But thankfully, it is during the coronavirus pandemic that I got a green signal from Kerala Cricket Association so it has been a blessing in disguise. 

I am spending a lot of time with my family. I love to read and write and I am reading a lot now, and trying to get my values right. I have been training in my home and I will be back again at the nets soon. But I urge people to stay indoors and as a wise man once said, ‘you have to win the war and small battles matter a lot’. I am not a wise man but I say that to be a national hero, stay indoors and if you really need to go out then take all the precautions. Don’t be lazy when it comes to hygiene.

I am writing something on whatever has happened in the last couple of months, I am writing on the lines of ‘loneliness is equal to geniuses’. The emphasis is on meditation and focus will be on ‘enjoy yourself during this time.’ Another thing I learned is painting and I am thinking of starting a YouTube channel. 

SC: How has your body been responding to the resumption of practice and full-fledged training for cricket? 

Sreesanth: God has been extremely kind. A 37-year-old is trying to make a comeback to international cricket. I think the break has been a blessing in disguise for my body as it helped me to freshen up my mind, I try to think positively. I did a couple of movies which helped remain in good shape but when it comes to cricket, the Celebrity Cricket League helped me be into cricket. I worked with Dilip Vengsarkar sir there. So being a bowling coach helped me a lot in keeping my fitness in check. I was 100-102 kgs before I went to Bigg Boss but with no food there, it helped me lose some weight (laughs). Ayurveda and Indian food has helped me keep my fitness intact and I would advise everyone to at least try it. It is miraculous. 

For match fitness, yes, I have to play a lot and I am looking forward to it. I am fresh and raring to go. Some players who used to play with me have retired because they are mentally and physically tired but that is not the case for me as I haven’t played for the last seven years. So yes, I am there for the long run now. 


SC: But let’s be honest here, playing one match is a different thing but playing an entire season is a different ball game. Do you think your body is ready to sustain that sort of pressure?

Sreesanth: Absolutely! When you are a youngster, an under-19 cricketer, you can afford to not sleep in time and eat healthily. But at my age, you have to be very particular about how you maintain your lifestyle. I am enjoying a healthy lifestyle now. In my opinion, it is all about mindset. I am not physically or mentally exhausted. After this long break, I am feeling like a youngster. I am not here for a season, I am here to sustain four or five seasons. My goal is to help Kerala win and help youngsters grow and then move to some of the smaller teams. I don’t want to hold onto a youngster’s position and rather would pass on my experience for them to learn from it. 
During this break, I have learned about different types of training, recovery training and all. So that will help me a lot. I am a positive person and Sreesanth was never a realistic person. I will defy all the odds again. And my message to all, don’t think about age, just lock on a target and work on that. 

SC: Cricket has completely in these last seven years. Are you prepared to learn and grasp things from youngsters and be a better bowler?

Sreesanth: The way I look at this is that it will be a debut match for me. It is all about the experience. You have to accept that there are better players. Yes, I have to learn a lot about the changed rules. I didn’t know that there were two new white balls and I have no shame in accepting that. Thanks to Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson, Basil Thampi and others, they all have way more experience in the last seven years. They have played the IPL and know modern cricket. I have so many things to learn from them. I still have that out-swinger, I can still bowl toe-crushing yorkers. I still have that in-cutter from which I got Sachin paaji (Sachin Tendulkar) out in 2005.

But yes, I do accept that I have so many things to learn from the younger players. I am not worried about spit-ban, just bowl your heart out. If you have proper priorities, you won’t have any problem in life. I want to leave a legacy and set fresh benchmarks.

SC: Kerala’s performance wasn’t up to the mark but the pace attack with the likes of Basil Thampi, KM Asif looks pretty decent on paper and your addition could further bolster it. Do you look at it as competition for places?

Sreesanth: We have fast bowlers who could represent the country at any given day. I am not here to compete. Something I have written ‘everybody knows what they want to be but most of them don’t know what they want to become’. I exactly know who I want to be. I can never get my seven years back but I am so grateful that I got to learn so much thing about life. There is no ego now, there is no competition. I am here to help. I will be starting Sreesanth Sports Academy soon, and that will be a small contribution to help the youngsters from my side. I will help each and everyone to better than me and then only I can be better than them. And if I end up with good performances, then hopefully I will be back playing for the country. 


SC: What about your aspirations for IPL?

Sreesanth: I will definitely put my name if my association allows. I think I am a good enough bowler and if any franchise contacts me before the auctions then I would love to be back in IPL. I have done decently in these last seven years. I have done movies, reality shows and I have continued to earn for my family. But I am not worrying about the results that is something I am preaching. Seven years is a long time for the season but for me, it was like a life sentence and I am ready to help and learn. 

SC: How was your time learning from Michael Jordan’s mental conditioning coach Tim Grover?

Sreesanth: What he was teaching is being unapologetic. I learned a lot about how Michael Jordan created his legacy. Again coronavirus has been a blessing in disguise, otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to learn from him. He is brute honest, something I learned from him. Being yourself, being your own competition is something which he taught me. That is what Tim Grover taught me but equally, Ramji Srinivasan has been a big help for me. He was the one who told me to run for 30 minutes or else I wouldn’t survive the physical intensity of the sport. 

SC: A chat with Sreesanth is incomplete without that South Africa tour. Almost everyone knows about the Andre Nel incident but not many how Jacques Rudolph triggered you. 

Sreesanth: Every day you learn. I have to thank Dada (Sourav Ganguly). Initially, I had no clue about how to bowl to left-handers. I just used to release the ball and hope that the batsman would get LBW or bowler. But it was Dada who told me ‘I know you struggle against left-handers so let’s practice’. So I used to bowl him in the nets. He helped me with the angle, release point and other technicalities. You know, when you bowl to the best, you become the best. When there are legends like Dada, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir are there in the dressing room and for that matter Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik have good technique.


So I have to thank these people behind my success there. It was not easy to be part of that team but again I am thankful to them for making me learn so much. I know a lot of people laugh after I hit Andre Nel for that six but they don’t realise that he was saying all the wrong things about me and my country. I just wanted to tame him. And even know I am obsessed with the game. Jacques Rudolph said that there is nothing to worry about Indian bowling apart from Zaheer Khan, who is also making his comeback. And since then he faced me four times, and all the time he got out for ducks. 

SC: On a final note, what will be your Indian team with you included in the XI. 

Sreesanth: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Sreesanth. 

I firmly believe in one team for all formats. Suresh Raina is someone who deserves a lot more appreciation. And with all due respect to Virat, Rohit will captain in T20s and Kohli can take the captain’s band in all other formats. 


And before I leave, I wanted to say something: Whenever you face a situation be it difficult, easy, super easy, impossible. Change, adapt and improvise. Make sure, you are doing it physically, mentally and spiritually. Another thing I wanted to say, when you do all these things together, it changes the look like a walk in the park. Every battle out there is a victory. Don’t even lose the battle. Don’t give up. Stick to your plan and you will achieve greatness. God bless you all. If I can, anybody can.