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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Sree Santh keen to make his mark
By Jamie Lillywhite

Sree Santh
Santh has a classical, athletic bowling action

It is not easy for a young cricketer to attract attention in a team featuring the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble.

But Sree Santh - that's the name he wishes to use after being referred to as S Sreesanth, Sri Sreesanth and by his full name, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, since beginning his international career - has done so by sheer force of personality.

He is indeed a rare commodity - an Indian pace bowler who bristles with aggression and who is happy to take the attack to opposition batsmen, whether it be with the ball or verbally.

"Even if I am bowling against my Dad I run in as if he is my biggest enemy," he told BBC Sport, ahead of his first Test on English soil, starting at Lord's on Thursday.

The lithe 22-year-old took 4-95 on his Test debut against England at Nagpur in March 2006, but it was on tour last winter when he established his combative reputation.


There are not many players who would stand up to South Africa's volatile Andre Nel, but after narrowly avoiding being laid out by a bouncer in Johannesburg, he hit the next ball for six and ran towards Nel twirling his bat in celebration.

Sheltering from the rain at the Lord's indoor school, however, Sree Santh proved to be a charming, personable young man far more conscious of the history of cricket than celebrity.

Born: 6 February 1983,
Kothamangalam, Kerala
8 Tests
37 wickets, average 25.97,
best bowling 5-40
29 ODIs
38 wickets, average 34.94,
best bowling 6-55

So what of this reputation as a hot-headed, spiky-haired, war-painted, fast bowler?

"My parents told me 'Whatever you do, do it with lots of passion' and I want to be the best at what I do.

"It is not intended to rattle the batsmen, it is just me. I was like this when I used to play tennis and other ball games. I don't hide anything, I show my emotions.

"It's my duty for my team and the nation I do myself justice, I'm never going to give up.

"The celebrity side of things is all created by you guys [the media] I am really not worried about that. I want to be at the best of my game. A lot depends on how big is the heart."

It his second visit to England, having toured with a young India side as a very different cricketer.

"When I was 16, I came here and played eight matches but I was a leg-spinner then, I only started bowling fast when I was 19," he revealed.

The reason for this change was a chance to meet Australia legend Dennis Lillee, who runs the fast bowling academy in Madras (Chennai) which Santh duly attended.

Andre Nel tangles with Sree Santh
Santh vents his anger at volatile South African Andre Nel

He is determined to savour the experience of Lord's, having been unable to appreciate its historic importance fully as a visiting teenager on his first trip.

Emerging from beneath the media centre he paused to survey the scene, the majestic pavilion ahead of him, imposing masses of empty white seats and that magnificently manicured outfield.

He touched the hallowed turf and began a practice run to the crease.

Although the square was covered on yet another day of blustery spring-like downpours, he bowled an imaginary delivery, with his next target to have his name permanently inscribed on the honours board for those who have taken five wickets in an innings.

"I promised myself I would play here one day and the moment I came out of the hotel [this week] I was just waiting to see the gate, then I was waiting to see the pavilion, then it was the ground, then it was the wicket.

"The moment I saw the wicket I wanted to practice. Every step is a dream. So many greats have played here, this is the best place, it's very emotional for me," he said.

And after another interview for Indian television he was off to continue the dream.

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