Given a choice, and the chance, S Sreesanth would probably have gone to watch Any Body Can Dance and not The Great Gatsby last week. The film, Gatsby, was not a patch on the book - they never are, are they? - but Sreesanth, if he'd seen it, would have started at the (somewhat altered) line: "The loneliest moment in life is when you watch your whole world fall apart, and all you can do is stare blankly".
Stare blankly is precisely what N Srinivasan is not doing. The gent is staring rather hard in the eyes of his critics, defiant as ever - he isn't about to let his world fall apart.
"I have done nothing wrong," said Srinivasan. It's a fair statement, I suppose, given that the man whose actions have pushed him into a corner is his son-in-law. Yes, haul me over the coals for this, but I don't believe Gurunath's crimes, if any, should be grounds for Srinivasan to be scrutinised. At least, not solely because they are close relatives.
But what about his own alleged misdemeanours over the years?
It makes for a long list, a list that is quite easily available on the Internet. It will tell you that Srinivasan might have amended the IPL constitution to allow a BCCI official (himself) to have financial stakes in the IPL and Champions League Twenty20. That he might have tampered with umpire appointments in IPL matches (why, you wonder?) and much else. 'Conflict of interest', people shouted then, and then again later, and ever since. Odd that nothing came of those outcries. Which is possibly what will happen now that the IPL final is over.
"As far as I know Srinivasan, he won't quit so easily as no one will raise voice within the BCCI," says mentor-turned-detractor AC Muthiah, himself a former BCCI president, and the man in charge at the time of the 2000 corruption scandal. Evidence of what Muthiah says can be heard in many things Srinivasan has said over the past couple of days, including the straight "I have no intention to quit".
Obviously Srinivasan doesn't want to quit, and Muthiah may or may not be right in saying that the top brass of the BCCI is not up to taking a strong stance against him, but considering the circumstances, a little humility on Srinivasan's part might not be out of order. In an ideal world, he might have stepped aside, not away but aside, till the matter was sorted out.
In between, we saw what was probably the most immature bit of damage control in the history of damage controls (give or take a few Bushisms): India Cements denied that Gurunath was the Chennai Super Kings Team Principal and Gurunath's Twitter bio was altered soon after that. What was that about? There's no reason to believe that Srinivasan orchestrated the sequence of events, but seeing that he is the Managing Director of India Cements, the company that owns CSK, which had Gurunath as its Team Principal, would it be too far-fetched to assume that he knew what the plan was?
For his part, at the press interaction on Sunday, Srinivasan said of Gurunath: "He has been travelling with the team, he is enthusiastic about it - that is fine." It is, is it?
Srinivasan has never been a pushover - his performance in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon was masterly, something he backs himself to pull off each time. "It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it," Douglas Adams once wrote. Naturally, the rulers don't agree.
We started this by talking about Sreesanth, didn't we? And I must admit that I have been feeling a little bad for him once the initial anger faded. No, I don't mean that we should be lenient with him or go easy on him if he is guilty. How do I articulate this?
Sreesanth's talent with the ball is immense. With the talent he had and his antics on and off the field, he could well have gone the way of the many talented, self-destructive people that the history of sport is littered with. Except that, unlike an Eric Cantona or an Ilie Nastase, he focused far too much on the nonsense and too little on the job at hand. He could have been one of those lovable rogues, the ones that add a touch of the absurd to our daily lives, the ones who spice up our sport with more than just great ability.
But what Sreesanth evolved into was an irritant, a pest, especially to his teammates. I once saw - in Sydney (2008) - a batsman walk out of the net Sreesanth was bowling in, because although everyone, including Dhoni, had asked Sreesanth to behave himself, he only bowled wide bouncers down the legside to this batsman. Sreesanth, much like a child who gets a kick from being admonished, seemed rather pleased with himself even as he waited with a ball in hand, but no batsman to bowl to.
As some others have mentioned in the past week, I have known very few players - cricketers or others - who are as disliked, nay detested, as Sreesanth was by his colleagues. And that's unfortunate. It's unfortunate because I have known him from the time he was in his late teens, and while he did play the fool more often than he should have even back then, he was also a polite and ambitious youngster. He just threw it all away. That fine line between being a lovable rogue and just a rogue, he stepped over it far too easily.
And unlike Srinivasan, Sreesanth probably doesn't have the wherewithal to go anywhere but down from here.