It could be said that the Sreesanth-Graeme Smith spat was the turning point of the match. And while Sreesanth may take credit what happened thereafter in Durban, the South Africans claim it was dirty play at work.
Sledging has become a contentious subject and clearly drawing the line has become a difficult task for umpires and players in the heat of the moment. It has led to some rather ugly incidents on the field.
And there is no letting what would have ensued had Smith not virtually gifted his wicket away following the distraction with Sreesanth. It can be fairly said that Smith’s dismissal was crucial from the perspective of South Africa chasing down the total.
But South African spinner Paul Harris is now alleging that the South African captain would not have reacted in the manner he did – waving his bat and clearly angry – had Sreesanth not hit under the belt as it were in terms of getting personal via the verbal spat. Harris felt Smith was not the type to react to verbal slanging unless it got too close for comfort and it suspects Sreesanth may have just done that.
Australia also claimed sledging as one of their strong points after winning in Perth, but clearly that is not the basis of winning cricket matches because Australia could not prevent England from retaining the Ashes by winning in Melbourne.
Sreesanth has been a repeat offender on that front while he will be hailed for his heroics with the ball in the second Test of the India South Africa series at Kingsmead, Durban, there is no doubt that Sreesanth’s behaviour will also be on the radar after being previously warned by the umpire before matters got out of hand.
Sreesanth’s erratic emotions have often got the better of him and attracted plenty of brickbats for a bowler who tends to lose focus after getting carried away with his antics. On this day though, India were the beneficiaries of Sreesanth’s slings.