Ishant Sharma's critic and former South African fast bowler Fanie de Villiers now sympathises with the India paceman; says there's no harm in bowlers dishing out send-offs like the lanky pacer did in Sri Lanka recently
Two years ago, South Africa's former pace stalwart Fanie de Villiers was highly critical of India fast bowler Ishant Sharma.
“Firstly, he needs to cut his hair. He doesn’t look like a sportsperson to me. I have seen too many sportsmen not make it at the highest level because of outside factors,” De Villiers (50) told mid-day in 2013.
India's Ishant Sharma exchanges words with Sri Lankan tailender Rangana Herath during the third and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo on August 30. PIC/AFP
Now, the Centurion-based De Villiers feels “sorry” for the Delhi fast bowler, who was at the receiving end of Zimbabwean match referee Andy Pycroft in the recent India vs Sri Lanka series.
Fanie de Villiers
Ishant was pulled up for showing aggression and indulged in a few send-offs during the third and final Test at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club, where India clinched the series 2-1.
'He bowled quite well'
“Not often do I take Ishant’s side but I feel sorry for him this time,” said De Villiers after learning about Ishant’s one-Test ban, which means he cannot play the opening Test at Mohali against De Villiers’ countrymen in November. “I did see the India vs Sri Lanka highlights and noticed that he bowled quite well. The challenge for every bowler is to control his temper and hopefully Ishant has learnt his lesson,” he said.
Ishant Sharma (centre) celebrates with teammates the wicket of Lanka's Dinesh Chandimal during the third Test in Colombo last month. PIC/AFP
De Villiers, who was part of Hansie Cronje’s India tourists in 1996, said he does not believe send-offs are bad for the sport. “Send-offs are good for cricket. I am very happy the guys do it. I know you get fined but it lifts everyone in the team. The entire team feels better and that’s what happened to India (in Colombo). It’s silly that umpires have right to get into intricacies like that. All I am concerned about is the example it sets to young players, but there is nothing wrong to be aggressive on the field and give a couple of send-offs.”
'Hard to win in India'
Speaking about South Africa’s chances on their two-month tour to India, De Villiers said: “I am worried for our guys. It is going to be a very difficult tour and it’s very hard to win in your conditions. By the time the tour reaches the Test series stage, they will be tired with all that traveling during the limited series segment. But who knows…”