Penalised Kerala cricketers may escape match ban

Kerala's Ranji team with coach Dav Whatmore. File photo

Kochi: The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) may lighten the punishment it had imposed upon five players who were found to have conspired against skipper Sachin Baby and had sought to wedge a split in the state team. The matter is being considered in the wake of the players requesting for lesser penalty and former cricketers intervening on behalf of some of them.

All the same, the KCA is set to bring in a strict code of conduct for its players. It will be drafted by ICC match referee V Narayanankutty, BCCI match referees K N Ananthapadmanabhan and P Ranganathan. Each Kerala player will have to sign on these proposed set of rules, which is besides the BCCI code of conduct.

A final decision on cutting down punishment to the five players will be decided on Thursday after discussions by top KCA officials at the association’s Thiruvananthapuram office. Kerala coach Dav Whatmore, a former Australian cricketer, too, will join the meeting. The move to lighten the dose of punishment is what is holding the KCA’s selection of the team for the upcoming Vijay Hazare cricket tournament.

As of now, the KCA has penalised former Kerala Ranji skippers Raiphi Vincent Gomez and Rohan Prem besides Sandeep Warrier, K M Asif and Mohammed Azharuddeen by barring them from three one-day matches and ordering them to pay their fees for three matches. The rest seven players (Sanju Samson, V A Jagadeesh, M D Nidheesh, Abhishek Mohan, K C Akshay, Fabid Farooq, Salman Nisar and Sijomon Joseph) who signed on the July 12 letter to the KCA had been asked to pay three days’ match fees. The entire amount so collected will go to the chief minister’s relief fund being raised for those affected by the recent floods in the state, the KCA had announced last week.

Those who later sought a lighter penalty had told the KCA about certain finer details about the issues behind the conspiracy. They stated that the moves starting from drafting the letter was engineered by a Thiruvanathapuram-born former Kerala cricketer who had played one Ranji match for the state.

Leg spinner Ananthapadmanabhan, who is a former Kerala skipper, has been the chief intermediary in the rapprochement exercise that followed. The KCA may withdraw its match ban order, but not the penalty as fees, according to sources.

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