The Kerala High Court on Monday lifted the life ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on discarded Indian pacer S. Sreesanth.
Sreesanth had approached the court last year after the BCCI failed to revoke the life ban though he was exonerated by a Delhi court of the charge of involvement in a spot-fixing scandal, which marred the Indian Premier League in 2013.
Sreesanth had to cool his heels in Tihar Central Jail in Delhi in May 2013 in the case. He was arrested by the Delhi Police in Mumbai on May 17 that year along with former Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.
The BCCI's Disciplinary Committee headed by present Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had slapped a life-time ban on Sreesanth and Chavan on September 13, 2013.
Sreesanth was present in the High Court when it gave the verdict, and asserted that he is now determined to kick-start his cricket career.
"I am thankful to all who stood with me in my period of distress. Now I will have to display my match fitness. I have a few club tournaments that are coming up. I will use these matches to regain my fitness. Once I prove my worth, then I will aim for selection to the Kerala team," the 34-year-old said.
"Right now I am not thinking of getting selected to the Indian team, as I have to regain my fitness," he said, adding "I want to thank all the people who stood with me."
Sreesanth's wife Bhuvneshwari Kumari said they are deeply thankful to the people of Kerala who stood by the pacer while he was going through difficult times.
"He is 34 years old now. He has been out of the game for a very long time. I am sure he will come back quickly to the game," she said.
His mother thanked the God for the positive verdict and said this was what they were all waiting for long to hear. His counsel Sivan Madethil told the media that the court while lifting the ban pointed out that the BCCI did not do a clean job by enforcing a life ban on the bowler. "There was no iota of evidence against Sreesanth, and the BCCI by slapping a life ban was callous, ruining the career of a player," Madethil said.
Sreesanth wrote a letter to the BCCI last year, asking it to revoke his ban. In reply, the BCCI wrote that it is very particular in ensuring that discipline is maintained and that there was nothing on record to change its earlier decision to ban the bowler from cricket for life.
In 2015, the pacer along with Chandila and Chavan was exonerated by a Delhi court in the case registered by the Delhi Police which invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) go try him. BCCI Vice President and former President of the Kerala Cricket Association T.C. Mathew welcomed the Kerala High Court verdict.
"The court is the final word, and this will have to be implemented by the BCCI. The KCA should ensure that Sreesanth is given the opportunity to take part in selections," Mathew said.
Sreesanth is the second Keralite to represent the Indian cricket team. During his brief career, he has played in 27 Tests taking 87 wickets, and picked up 75 scalps from 53 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and seven wickets from 10 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).