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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Welcome back .. .. SEcond Spell Sreesanth

Jacques Kallis, the man who scored 13289 test runs and 11579 runs in ODI all at sea, against an Indian pacer’s bouncer – imagine who ? 

Supreme Court of India’s judgment in 2019 started thus – ‘the  sports occupy a prominent place in life of a man/woman and also in the life of a nation. It not only gives physical or moral strength to a personality but spread the message of goodwill and friendship. In the 21st Century the countries have come closer and nearer to each other and sports have become a medium of bonds’.

A famous Cricketer had gone on appeal against BCCI for on the morning of 16th  May, 2013, his life changed – it was widely reported in the media that the Delhi Police, Special Cell had arrested 3 cricketers (this player who had represented India alongside 2 other IPL players)  of having indulged in spot fixing during certain matches of Rajasthan Royals and  allegedly in the company of one Mr. Jiju Janardhan who according to Delhi Police is a  bookie.  Thus, life changed for the worse for the man who was a Cricket Quiz Q earlier -  who is the only Kerala bowler to have taken a Ranji Trophy hat-trick ? His rise, though, was rapid, and since he played for a weak side, unnoticed. Not too many bowlers get selected for the Duleep Trophy in their first season, like he  did in 2002-03 after snapping up 22 wickets in his first seven games.

He donned India Cap no. 253 and debuted in Test 1785 against England at Nagpur in Mar 2006 debuting alongside :  Sir Alastair Cook, Ian Blackwell, & Monty Panesar.  Just to add some spice – India Cap 250 Dinesh Karthik, 251 – illustrious MS Dhoni; 252 Rudra Pratap Singh; 253 ____ ; 254 Piyush Chawla; 255 Munaf Musa Patel; 256 Vikram Raj Vir Singh; 257 Ramesh Power; 258 Ishant Sharma; 259 Amit Mishra; 260 Murali Vijay – the man Santhakumaran Sreesanth.

Now at 37 +  India fast bowler Sreesanth has vowed to make a return to competitive cricket now that his ban in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal is over. On their part, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), Sreesanth's home association, is happy to bring him back into the fold for the upcoming domestic season should he prove his form and fitness. "Sreesanth has shown the keenness to play by training hard and keeping himself fit," Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan told ESPNcricinfo. "We've been in touch [with him]. We will consider him, but it will depend on his form and fitness. But the door is open."

Initially banned for life, Sreesanth's sentence was downgraded to seven years by BCCI ombudsman Justice (retd) DK Jain in August 2019. At the time, Jain had received a directive from the Supreme Court of India to reconsider the ban given Sreesanth had already served six years of the ban and because his "prime years" as a fast bowler were nearly over. Since lockdown was lifted partially in June, Sreesanth has been training with members of the Kerala Under-23 team and a few senior players at a KCA facility in Ernakulam. "After a long wait, I can play again but there is no place in the country to play now," Sreesanth told Times of India on Monday. "I even planned to organise a local tournament in Kochi this week so that I could step out onto the field, but decided against it looking at the risks involved, as the number of coronavirus cases in Kerala are increasing."

Even as he plots a comeback, Sreesanth is realistic about where he stands with respect to competitive cricket. "From last May, I have put my heart and soul into training," he said. "So when I read about domestic season being a non-starter, I was shattered. "I even thought of quitting the game but thought I wouldn't be doing justice to myself as all the efforts I've made to play the game would have gone down the drain. If the domestic season in India is cancelled, I will have to look at other options. If there is no cricket here, I might as well request the BCCI to allow me to play abroad."

On that fateful day in May 26, 2013, Sreesanth - along with Rajasthan Royals team-mates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan - were arrested by Delhi Police for fraud and cheating in IPL 2013. The three were allegedly promised money ranging from US$36,000 to 109,000 for each fix. Eleven bookies were arrested too. The BCCI suspended the three players, pending enquiry. A few days later, the Royals franchise suspended their contracts.  In 2015, a Delhi trial court dropped charges against Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila in the matter. However, the decision had no bearing on the life bans imposed by the BCCI.  In 2017  BCCI denied  Sreesanth permission to play in Scotland, after the fast bowler asked for a no-objection certificate to turn out for Glenrothes CC.

Latter he filed a writ petition in Kerala High Court challenging his ban. Kerala High Court ordered  the BCCI to lift the life ban on Sreesanth, observing that the board's refusal to do so is a "violation of natural justice".

Later he filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of India against his ban.  The Court observed - Cricket, it is said, is a synonym for gentlemanliness which means discipline, fair play, modest and high standard of morality. The ever increasing interest in the game of Cricket in our country has raised issues of its regulation, control and management. In our country the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a registered Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, exercises sufficient control on all aspects of game of Cricket and has framed various Code of Conduct for all who are associated with it.

Before the Apex Court, Sreesanth contended that - as regards conceding of 14 runs I may respectfully point out there was no guarantee that the Captain will ask me to bowl in a particular over and if so, depending on the field, the pitch, batsman etc. the bowler will have to bowl. It may be stated here that my bowling is considered pace bowling estimated at an average of 135 kms. per hour and there is no guarantee for a bowler regarding the runs he is likely to concede unless deliberately either a no ball or wide is bowled. Conceding runs therefore, cannot be manipulated as alleged. There is no allegation that in the concerned second over any wide or no ball was bowled.

That year (2019) came his relief as the Supreme Court   "set aside" the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI for his alleged role in the 2013 IPL corruption and spot-fixing scandal. The apex court of the country  asked the BCCI to "reconsider" and "revisit" the length of any fresh ban, "preferably" within three months. By that BCCI had a  new constitution (registered in August 2018), all the duties earlier discharged by the disciplinary committee, made up of BCCI officials, were being  performed by the ombudsman and, Sreesanth's fate was to be decided  by Justice (retd) DK Jain.

So 6 years after the arrest, Sreesanth breathed a little easier as  BCCI ombudsman Justice (retd) DK Jain reduced his IPL 2013 spot-fixing ban to seven years, the sanction period now ending on September 13, 2020.  

Statistically, Sreesanth India represented India in 27 Tests taking 87 wickets and 75 wickets in 53 ODIs; he played 10 T20Is too, recall that on 24.9.2007 – he took the catch of Misbah Ul Haq off Joginder Sharma – the finals of T20 WC inaugural Cup. It is unlikely that he would represent India again and add anything to his tally.  He would be remembered as a cheerful enthusiastic genuine quickie playing for the Nation from a State that is not considered when it comes to national reckoning – the state of Kerala.

Welcome back – Second Innings Sreesanth - #SreesanthSecondSpell  @sreesanth36

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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