Sreesanth - Like a Rolling Stone

The numbers reveal as much as they conceal - 87 wickets from 27 Tests, at an average of 37.59. What those figures don't tell you, though, is how he could change a game. At the end of the South African tour in January 2007, Allan Donald said that he had not come across any bowler who could hit the pitch with seam bolt upright ball after ball as Sreesanth had done at the Wanderers [he took 8 for 99].

updated: September 14, 2013 12:52 IST
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Those are the moments you never forget, the slaps in the face that sting years after the event. It happened in Seoul in 1988, with Ben Johnson scurrying through the airport like a hunted rabbit. Six years later, it was Diego Maradona leaving the World Cup under a cloud. For cricket, doomsday came in April 2000 when the Delhi Police produced an audio recording of Hansie Cronje in conversation with someone whose number he shouldn't have had.

Reality bit again a year when The Sunday Times published a story titled Saddled with Suspicion. Millions opted to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land for another decade, but deep down I knew that exceptional journalists like David Walsh and Paul Kimmage wouldn't get their facts that wrong, that the Lance Armstrong chronicles were one gigantic sham.

Compared to these betrayals, the Sreesanth saga is little more than a mosquito bite. At 30, he was already a has-been, someone whose last few headlines had been for bizarre behaviour rather than on-field excellence. Then, you think of the Wanderers less than seven years ago, and logic exits the room, replaced by lingering sadness. You think of the madcap celebration after a six off Andre Nel, and contrast that with the image taken from the court in May, of a young man being taken in like a common criminal.

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