S Sreesanth, banned for life by the BCCI’s disciplinary committee, is hoping to return to competitive cricket by turning out for Glenlothes Cricket Club in Scotland. In an interview to The Indian Express, he asks why he cannot be given an NOC by the BCCI to play abroad as the court has dropped charges against him in the spot-fixing case due to insufficient evidence under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
You have said that you have been asking the BCCI for an official letter with regard to the life ban imposed on you. But haven’t they made it clear that you have been sanctioned.
There has been no official communication from the BCCI to me, though officials have said time and again that I have been banned. I have written to the BCCI on many occasions. Only yesterday (Wednesday evening) did I receive a copy from the Kerala Cricket Association secretary. Basically, it was a copy of the BCCI’s disciplinary committee proceedings against me. But the disciplinary committee of the BCCI had issued the life ban before the trial court in Delhi discharged me in the IPL sport-fixing case. After the verdict of the trial court, I don’t know how I can continue to be banned.
But the BCCI has gone by the report of its inquiry commission headed by Ravi Sawani and it also mentions evidence provided by the Delhi Police.
What Sawani did was go by the chargesheet of the Delhi Police. Sawani just duplicated what the Delhi Police was saying. This is gross injustice. And the BCCI’s disciplinary panel went by what the report said and was quick to punish me. There was only one conversation between me and my friend (Jiju Janardhan) where we are talking about going to an orphanage. The BCCI went purely by what the police said in the chargesheet. I don’t know why I am still banned after the court has said there is no evidence of corruption related to me.
You plan to play cricket in Scotland. Do you really think it will be possible now?
I am only asking the BCCI to give back my rights. I have tried to contact officials in the past to put forward my case, but nobody has responded. I want to play club cricket first and hope to go to Scotland to play in April. But if the BCCI does not change its stand, it will be very difficult for me to pursue cricket. Around the world, players against whom there has been evidence of spot-fixing, like Mohd Amir and Salman Butt, have been allowed to play cricket. Amir is even playing for Pakistan again. I want to know why I am being singled out when there is no evidence of me being involved in corruption.
Will you be playing for the Ernakulam Cricket Club this weekend?
I was planning to play this week but the dates of the tournament have been changed. So I will have to wait and see what is the updated schedule.
What can you do if the BCCI refuses to lift your life ban?
I am just hoping that the BCCI gives a no-objection certificate (NOC) to play in Scotland. I am hoping to hear from them by tomorrow evening. I hope the panel of administrators consider my plea for an NOC. I don’t want to take the BCCI to court. I have the option of taking my case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if I am not allowed to play cricket. In an ideal scenario, I would not want to drag the Indian cricket board to court.
You are 34, how long do you see yourself playing cricket?
I have been training hard in the gymnasium and also bowling in the nets at private grounds. I had made a comeback after undergoing painful surgery and having metal pins inserted in my toes. I believe I have a few years of cricket left in me. What is important is I am still passionate about playing cricket and keen to prove that I am still an asset when it comes to bowling fast.
During your time away from the game, have you watched cricket?
Yes, I do follow what the Indian cricket team is doing and I do get emotional when I see them playing. To keep myself motivated I do watch videos of my spells on YouTube.