S. Sreesanth loved to court controversies - whether it was Sachin Tendulkar, Mathew Hayden, Andrew Symonds or Michael Vaughan, he spared none. Once when asked his behaviour on the field, his brother Dipu Shantan said: "It is his killer instinct, he will do the same even if his father was batting."
As he rose from Kerala, a minor cricketing state, many tried to overlook his frequent outbursts. After his impressive performance in South Africa in 2006, a leading Malayalam daily even called him 'Kerala Sree'. So, when he entered the hall of shame following the arrest for alleged spot-fixing, the average Malayalee could not digest.
"No, Sri won't do this," they insisted after news broke on Thursday that three players have been taken into police custody.
No business sense
In the last couple of years, like his fading sport star, his non-cricketing innings also failed to take off.
The belly dancer's (a good dancer he often performed on stages) hotel business was closed down and his music band 'S36', which he started with much fanfare, failed to make ripples. In 2007, he along with Robin Uthappa and former Kerala Ranji player Mahindra opened a "Bat and Ball Inn' simultaneously in Kochi and Bangalore. Then he said he was padding up to take a deep plunge into hotel business. Like 'Mohan Lal Tastebuds', there was talk he would pack the state's aromatic spices in his brand name. The whole venture sank in two years.
In 2010, when he launched the band, he had said: "S is Sreesanth and 36 is my luckiest jersey, the one I wore when I took the catch of Misbah-ul-Haq to give my country the World T20 title in 2007." The band had some performances during the Twenty20 league, but it did not click. Now, Dipu looks after the company. Once his cricketing image dipped, his brand value also came down. In Kerala, he was the brand ambassador of two business groups, but both did not renew their contract in 2011.
Most of his cricketing friends still swear that it was his intimacy with old club player, Jiju Janardhanan, which pushed him to the brink. The Gujarat-born Jiju had played with him for an Ernakulam cricket club and both also trained at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. Jiju failed to get a toehold in Gujarat cricket and Sreesanth repeatedly recommended him to the Kerala Ranji team, but it was not considered.
One of Sreesanth's old coaches said: "Sri was in wrong company, we realised it very late. But we never thought his career would end in such a shame."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.