KOCHI: Outside his Kochi mansion, crackers were going off incessantly. Inside, S Sreesanth was busy receiving visitors who dropped in to congratulate the former India fast bowler after the Kerala High Court ordered the BCCI to lift the lifetime ban imposed on him for spot fixing. His face lit up with glee as he exchanged pleasantries with them. All the while twirling a worn-out red leather ball and feeling the seam, he looked like a bowler returning to his mark, loading up for the next delivery. Nobody knows whether he would be able to make that scenario happen for real on the international stage anytime soon.
Ever since he was charged of spot fixing in 2013, life has been tough for the pacer. From a talented quickie who put everyone on notice with his swing and seam position, the world began viewing him as a cheat who had a share in maligning the gentleman’s game. Even though the Patiala House Court had acquitted him of all fixing charges in 2015, the BCCI refused to budge. He was even thrown out of the Chinnaswamy Stadium last year when he went there with the Telugu Warriors to play in the Celebrity Cricket League. Sreesanth said despite being the bowling coach, he was not allowed to even sit among the spectators.
“That really disappointed me. Bengaluru and National Cricket Academy played a big role in my cricketing career, and I was not even allowed inside,” the 34-year-old said. It was this bad experience that prompted him to break more sweat so that he could play in Bengaluru if at all he gets a nod. “You can see that I am now ripped. It’s because of that bad experience. I pumped iron to keep myself in shape.” However, Sreesanth said he didn’t harbour any bitterness towards the BCCI.
“I’ve been out for four years, and for a fast bowler, that’s like eight years. Since 2015, I was waiting patiently, season after season, thinking that BCCI will give me permission to play. But that didn’t happen. So I went to court because cricket is my life. And I have a family to look after,” Sreesanth said. It’s to be seen what decision the BCCI takes vis-a-vis the court order. But the Kerala Cricket Association made it clear that they are with the cricketer. “We have always supported him. We will be happy if he could play for us in the Ranji Trophy,” said KCA secretary Jayesh George.
On his part, Sreesanth has been preparing for quite sometime to make his return an impactful one.“I am fitter than I was four years ago. Kerala have got a few good players who are hungry to win matches. I want to be among them, guide them and be part of the history,” the Kochi-based bowler laid down his route map. As he prepares to wind up, Sreesanth’s twoyear- old daughter Sree Sanvika came up to him and asked why the crackers were being burst. “It’s Diwali,” he replied. In a way, the court has laid down the path for Sree, as he is fondly called, to return from wilderness. But can he walk all the way? Only time will tell.