Before India head on to play the third and final Test against South Africa at Wanderer’s in Johannesburg, former Proteas fast bowler Andre Nel recalled his rivalry with former Indian seamer S Sreesanth during a Test in the same stadium back in 2006. In an interview to Cricbuzz, the 40-year old said that he thought about hitting Sreesanth on the head when he came out to bat.
“When I saw him walk out, the first thing I thought was ‘hit him on the head'”, the former bowler confessed. “To be fair, that was generally my thought no matter who was batting,” he added.
The Kerala fast bowler took a fifer in the first innings in the Test to bowl out South Africa for 84 runs after India posted 249 runs. Sreesanth who delivered his career-best performance of 5/40 in the innings, tested the opposition’s tailenders with short deliveries. When he came out to bat in the second innings, India had already taken a lead of 384 runs. Nel, who was known for hurling verbal abuses on opposition’s batsmen, decided to test his patience with insults.
“To be honest, I can’t remember what I said. It was a heat of the moment thing and probably something along the lines of ‘I’ve got more heart than you’. I honestly couldn’t say for sure,” Nel said.
The battle between the two was won by Sreesanth who lofted a straight six on Nel’s next ball and then “danced” to celebrate in the middle of the pitch. Speaking on his celebrations, the former bowler said, “I never saw him celebrate. When you’ve been hit for six after giving a guy a lot of lip you have no choice but to put your tail between your legs and turn around. But it was great fun. I always looked for a fight on the field and loved it when someone would come back at me.”
The former Proteas bowler added that he “loved his tussle” with Sreesanth. “I was the first to walk up to my opponent and shake his hand after the game. I had a laugh with Sreesanth back in the change room. He was such a character and I loved my tussle with him. I saw him around when I played in the IPL and we always spoke about that day. I know he enjoyed it as much as I did. I know the fans did too. Cricket is meant to be exciting and I hope people know how incredibly proud I was representing my country,” he said.