By 2013 Shanthakumaran Sreesanth had already been a part of two world cup winning Indian squads; he had represented India at the top level having 27 Tests, 53 ODIs and 10 T20Is to his credit. However, come IPL 2013 and all of that was to go down the drain.
The IPL in 2013 was hit by a plethora of controversies. A match-fixing scandal broke out triggering a lot of hullabaloos in the cricketing world and it eventually lead to a sunset on the careers of three young, talented men for their alleged involvement in the match fixing scandal. One of the names to be banned for life was that of Sreesanth.
The buzz about the scandal slowly died, cricket moved on and the IPL of 2013 concluded on a good note, and more seasons followed. However, this isn’t how the story proceeded for Sreesanth. For him it would mean that he would be playing the toughest match of his life off the field, and that he would be entangled in a loop of judicial proceedings, media tagging and bashing. It also meant that Sreesanth would begin seeking an alternative career option and tries his hands at politics, acting, reality shows and everything else that was thrown at him.
Though Sreesanth was given a clean chit in the spot fixing case by a New Delhi court in 2015, the BCCI did not budge from its decision of a life ban on the pacer. However life had other plans for him or maybe I should say The Kerala state high court had other plans. The court on Monday 7th July 2017 lifted his life ban on the grounds that the BCCI had not proved his role in the 2013 match fixing scandal.
The order has brought a new wave of optimism to the cricketers life, who was since long preparing for him comeback, has now sown bigger dreams of representing Kerala in the Ranji Trophy and India in the 2019 world cup. The pacer has set his eyes on India’s tour of South Africa in 2018 for his national comeback.
He also confesses that he has drawn inspiration from Pakistan’s Mohammed Amir’s stunning international comeback post being banned due to match fixing.
The pacer opened up about his struggles and future plans in an Interview with the Times of India, excerpts;
When asked about his plans of return to cricket from here;
“I have been working hard on my fitness. If I have a couple of good matches, I can play for Kerala as soon as possible. So, I want to get myself ready for the Ranji Trophy season. A good season there should help me get back into the scheme of things for the national team as well. India is touring South Africa in 2018 and obviously that is my target.” He said.
He isn’t scared of the demons from his past, and said he is willing to participate in the IPL too; he also shared his aim of reaching the milestone of 100 test wickets;
“It all depends on performance and fitness. My target is to play for Kerala. I may also be picked by an IPL team. I am happy to play cricket at any level. I have 87 Test wickets and my target is 100. May be much more than 100.” Said Sreesanth
And when quizzed if politics had any effect on him, he replied positively and was only thankful about the opportunity;
“Politics has really given me motivation. Special thanks to Amit Shah ji and Narendra Modi ji. Even the state BJP leaders, they have all motivated me not to give up in life. So thanks to the party for giving me all the encouragement. I am proud to say I am part of the biggest political party in the country. I’ll continue my political work as karyakarta but priority is cricket.” quipped Sreesanth.
And the good news for Sreesanth didn’t end here as a day after the court’s ruling the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) wrote to the BCCI seeking its decision, and also informed them about his readiness to return to cricket.
The state association is keen on supporting the cricketer and expressed its intentions about the same in a release;
“With the domestic season around the corner, the KCA would also like to support him and provide an an opportunity to train/practice in the pre-season preparatory camps and selection trials at the earliest instance, subject to clearance from the Committee of Administrators/BCCI,” the KCA said.
We hope that the cricketer gets a new lifeline and that it helps Indian cricket grow.