KOCHI: Till recently, S Sreesanth has not been an iconic sports figure for the masses. It was pronouncedly apparent during the initial days after his arrest in the IPL spot-fixing scam two years ago.
With social media trolling him as a disgrace, finding fault with his volatile temperament and boorish comportment, those were the times the banned pacer described as his worst ever.
However, there is an evident change in public perception towards Sreesanth. And it was on display at the Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery, as he emerged out of the domestic arrival on Sunday — a day after a Delhi court cleared him of corruption charges.
Accompanied by wife Bhuvaneshwari Kumari, the pacer was welcomed by a crowd of fans, shouting, Sreesanth Ki Jai. The clamour rose to a crescendo when he waved at them and said: “I’m very happy to see you all assembled here to welcome me.” A similar reception awaited him at his sister’s house in Kaloor, Kochi, where he went from the airport. At home, a visibly-relieved and jubilant Sreesanth kept smiling at the crowd and embraced his sister and other relatives.
A little later, he went inside and came back with his as yet unnamed three-month-old daughter, who he fondly calls Sreekutty. “She is my lucky charm. She has brought me luck,” said the beaming father.
Already vindicated in court, Sreesanth responded to queries about his life over the past two years. “In my conscience, I’ve done no wrong. Whatever has happened has happened and I’m trying to put behind those unfortunate incidents,” he said referring to the trauma after being accused of corruption.
One of the charges in the IPL scam linked him to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Responding to that, he said, “If I had any link with him, I wouldn’t have been here. I would have been in Dubai or some other place. If I had known people like him, I wouldn’t have been cricketer.” According to Delhi police, Sreesanth had been offered `60 lakh by the bookies and he had received `10 lakh for fixing a particular over in IPL 6. Of the `10 lakh, he allegedly spent large sums on clothing and mobile phones.
“The money I earned... it is hard earned. The question was about my personality and my commitment. I’m happy now... I’m relieved of all charges,” he said.
KCA Chief to Write to Board Today
Kerala Cricket Association decided to write to the BCCI seeking lifting of the life ban imposed on Sreesanth. “Our legal team is having a look at the draft and we have also sought the opinion of Sreesanth’s legal team. Once the inputs are received, the letter will be sent tomorrow (Monday) itself to the BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya and secretary Anurag Thakur urging them to revoke the ban on Sreesanth as early as possible. The (BCCI) working committee meeting is likely to be held in August. But I have told the secretary that it would be too long, and requested a decision at the earliest,” KCA president T C Mathew told Express.