When not creating trouble on the field, Sreesanth has kept himself in the headlines off it. Following the 2013 spot fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League, Sreesanth’s subsequent arrest and legal battle has stayed in the headlines. But even as he expresses optimism five years hence, there is plenty to be confused about.
What might seem like victory for India’s fast bowler, S. Sreesanth, is in reality only a part of a reprieve. The larger battle remains. After five years of serving time under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) imposed life ban, S. Sreesanth is rejoicing the fact that the Supreme Court has overturned the BCCI decision. But it does not yet make Sreesanth immediately eligible to play.
What has been missed in the fine print is that the Supreme Court has directed the BCCI to decide a fresh quantum of punishment within the next three months for the disgraced fast bowler while terming the life ban harsh. And there is a caveat for why the highest judicial body in the country may have arrived at that conclusion.
In India, there is still not enough laws about cheating in sport and certainly no mention of terms of such as match fixing or spot fixing. In that light, while there are pending criminal proceedings against Sreesanth and two of his team mates with whom he played in the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League until the trio was hauled up for trying to fix matches, there is no precedent in such matters. Furthermore, with evidence more circumstantial than substantial, trickily conclusive to a spectator but not necessarily standing up without blemish in a court of law, it is understandable why the apex judicial body made such a move.
For the BCCI, it is another life ban over turn after one was handed to former Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, after Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, now deceased, mentioned the former’s name amongst those who had colluded in the match fixing saga that rocked the cricket world in 1999-2000. However, while it might seem that the BCCI has been unable to stick conclusive evidence to these players, leaving the cricket world strangely and awkward divided between rejecting these players and their past performances outright or letting their on field accolades stay as acknowledgement in the larger interest in the sport, the taint has only left cricket poorer.
While Sreesanth can hope to return to the cricket field, despite being thirty-five years of age and having lost five years, the battles as far as clearing his name still looms because while the Supreme Court has lifted the life ban, it has not reprieved him of the guilty charge derived by the BCCI’s disciplinary committee that handed the cricketer the life ban in the first place.