Former India paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth’s life ban for alleged spot-fixing in IPL games was reduced to seven years in an order passed by BCCI Ombudsman, Justice (Retd.) DK Jain, on Tuesday (August 20). Jain said in his order that ban will be for seven years, beginning on 13.09.2013 — date from which the ban imposed by BCCI Disciplinary Committee began.
Sreesanth, who will be 37 years of age by the time the ban ends next year, will be eligible to play cricket professionally as well as be allowed to be associated with the sport as a coach or mentor or TV commentator/expert in the future. The order will now be put in front of Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) in the next meeting, who are expected to give the go-ahead to BCCI to lift Sreesanth’s ban.
The BCCI banned Sreesanth for life in September 2013, along with his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, for indulging in alleged spot-fixing in the IPL that year. But on March 15 this year, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order. Now, in an order passed on August 7, Jain said ‘ends of justice’ would be met by making it a seven-year suspension and letting him play next year.
“…for Mr Sreesanth, who is now in his late thirties, his prime years as a cricketer, particularly as a fast bowler may already be over,” Jain wrote in his order, posted on the BCCI website.
“… I am of the view that banning Mr. Sreesanth from participating in any kind of commercial Cricket or from associating with any activities of the BCCI or its affiliates, for a period of seven years with effect from 13.09.2013, i.e. the date from which, the period of ban imposed by the Disciplinary Committee had commenced, will meet the ends of justice,” Jain said in the order.
In April this year, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph said that BCCI Ombudsman would reconsider within three months, the quantum of punishment for Sreesanth for his involvement in the spot-fixing episode. The Kerala paceman turned out in 27 Tests, 53 ODIs and 10 T20Is for India, claiming 169 wickets in all. He last played for India back in 2011.
“Although the BCCI has referred to his erratic behaviour, both on and off the field, with fellow players, but nothing has been brought on record by the BCCI to show that any sanction was imposed on him in the past. On the contrary, he was regularly participating in the national and international matches.
“In the report of the Commissioner there is no allegation that Mr Sreesanth did not cooperate with the inquiry. Additionally, the BCCI has not been able to controvert the specific plea of Mr Sreesanth that the offences allegedly committed by him did not substantially damage the commercial value of the IPL matches, or even the final result of the subject match,” Jain noted in his order.
The COA now have to implement this order passed by Justice Jain. “The matter was referred to the BCCI Ombudsman following the Supreme Court order. The BCCI constitution says punishment is the sole domain of BCCI Ombudsman and we’ll follow the same protocol in case of Sreesanth matter as well. I don’t see COA or BCCI having any objections to clearing this order in our next meeting,” a COA member told CricketNext.
Now after a much-awaited relief from the BCCI, it remains to be seen in what way Sreesanth remains associated with the sport which brought his two World titles — 2007 World T20 crown and 2011 World Cup.