S Sreesanth, the mercurial pacer who once made just as many headlines for his on-field antics as he did with his fiery out swingers, is in the news again.
With his seven-year ban from cricket for an alleged spot-fixing incident in the 2013 IPL having come to an end, Sreesanth made his intentions clear in Kochi on Monday. “I am coming back. I will not be returning as a World Cup-winner. I will start anew. I will be coming to the crease as a new player. It will be a debut,” Sreesanth said.
Earlier, just days before his ban came to an end, the Kerala pacer had taken to Twitter to assert yet again that he will do whatever it takes to get back into cricket. “I will give my very best to every ball I bowl, even (if) it's just practice,” Sreesanth tweeted.
The 37-year-old is also very aware that his 'good years' may be behind him. “I have another 5 to 7 years max to give it all I've got and I will give the very best to any team I play,” he had added.
In an earlier interview with Onmanorama, Sreesanth had expressed his eagerness to resume at least his domestic career. The Kerala Cricket Association too had hinted that it would like him back in the Ranji squad provided he proves his fitness. And that's exactly what Sreesanth had been up to these past months.
He has had a rigorous training schedule. He wakes up in the morning, practices yoga and meditation, heads to the nets for a four-hour bowling and fielding sessions, followed by a two-hour muscle strengthening and toning work at the gym.
He also finds time to attend online mental conditioning classes by Tim Grover, who worked with the likes of basketball giants Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
However, it is not certain when he will don the whites. The Indian domestic season has been postponed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
"The BCCI is making all efforts to ensure that domestic cricket resumes as and when the conditions permit." BCCI President Sourav Ganguly wrote in a recent letter to presidents and secretaries of its affiliated member associations.
Sreesanth was arrested on May 16, 2013, on charges of spot-fixing the IPL match between his team Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians. The charges were eventually dropped by a Delhi trial court on July 25, 2015.
The BCCI banned Sreesanth in August, 2013, along with his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan. It did not allow him to play despite the acquittal. This forced Sreesanth to continue his legal fight.
On March 15, 2019, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee's order and asked the Board to reconsider the quantum of punishment. Later, in August, the Board's Ombudsman Justice (retd) DK Jain commuted the ban to seven years. It ended on Sunday.
Sreesanth played 27 Tests and 53 ODIs for India, taking 87 and 75 wickets respectively. He has also taken seven wickets in 10 T20 Internationals. The pacer was also popular for his exuberant celebrations after taking wickets but his life and career went downhill after the spot-fixing scandal. However, he maintained his innocence throughout the controversy.
(With inputs from PTI)