Kerala HC lifts life ban on cricketer Sreesanth

Kerala HC lifts life ban on cricketer Sreesanth
The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside a life ban imposed on cricketer S Sreesanth by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in connection with the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing case.

Justice A Muhamed Mustaque delivered the verdict while considering a writ petition filed by the fast bowler from Kerala, challenging the BCCI’s decision to not revoke the ban even though a Delhi sessions court had cleared him of the charges, in 2015.

Sreesanth was arrested in May 2013, along with two of his teammates in the IPL side Rajasthan Royals – Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila – by the Delhi Police on charges of spot-fixing. In September 2013, he was handed a life ban following a meeting of the BCCI’s disciplinary committee. The High Court held that no evidence was before the committee to establish Sreesanth’s involvement in spot-fixing.

“The BCCI ought to have found that there was no circumstantial evidence to indicate that Sreesanth had agreed to spot fixing. The disciplinary committee ought to have been careful in analysing evidence especially when the deal itself had failed to work out,” the judgment said.

The court observed that disciplinary action on a player impacted his reputation and confidence built through hard work. “It is the duty of the BCCI to safeguard such interest of the player without compromising purity and integrity of the game,” it said in the judgment.

In January this year, the BCCI denied Sreesanth an NOC to play league cricket in Scotland. In April, the board also rejected the cricketer’s appeal for a review of the life ban. The BCCI has maintained that its decisions are based on its own systems of investigation and what it viewed as a violation of its disciplinary rules.

Sreesanth said the reprieve that comes after a prolonged legal battle would help him work harder to return to competitive cricket. Reacting to the High Court verdict, he thanked his supporters and said his immediate priority was in ensuring match fitness and a slot in the Kerala side. “I’m only 34; I think I have six to eight years of cricket left in me if I maintain my fitness... now, I’ll focus on my performance,” he told reporters in Kochi.

The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) welcomed the verdict and said it would study the order in detail before deciding on its plans for Sreesanth, the state’s most successful cricketer. “We all know about his abilities. Now, it’s a matter of assessing his form considering he has been away for four years,” KCA secretary Jayesh George told Deccan Herald.

A right-arm fast-medium bowler with impressive turns in the 2006 and 2010-11 tours of South Africa, Sreesanth has taken 87 wickets from 27 tests and 75 wickets from 53 ODIs. In the 2016 Assembly election, he contested, and lost, as a BJP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram Central. He has also done reality television and featured in films.

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