The news that Indian World Cup winner S Sreesanth is seeking to play in Scotland with Eastern Premiership side Glenrothes is a remarkable twist in the long-running saga of one of Indian cricket’s most colourful characters. After overturning the life ban issued to him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) following the 2013 Indian Premier League match-fixing scandal, Sreesanth is seeking final permission from the organisation to resume his career.
Although both Glenrothes and Cricket Scotland are yet to confirm the move, Sreesanth is confident that, following the governance changes at the top of the BCCI as a result of the recent proceedings in the Indian Supreme Court, a swift resolution to his situation can be found.
“As far as I know, the ban applies only to BCCI tournaments,” the thirty-three-year-old pacer told a Doha press conference in December. “If BCCI gives me the permission to travel then I can probably play in the Scotland League. I’m currently in talks with Scotland’s Glenrothes Cricket Club. I can play for them in the 2017 season, provided [the] Scotland board gets [the] BCCI nod.”
This month he went further.
“I have written to the BCCI to give me clearance,” he told the Hindustan Times. “I am awaiting their response. The Scottish club cricket has nothing to do with the BCCI or the ICC (International Cricket Council) [and] the court has acquitted me of all charges.
“I have already signed the contract. All legal formalities have been completed. The league is going to begin in April.
“I don’t want someone to create problems for me. I have already suffered a lot for no fault of mine.”
Sreesanth’s career came to an abrupt halt in April 2013 with his arrest, alongside his Rajasthan Royals team-mates Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila, on charges relating to spot-fixing during the sixth edition of the showpiece Twenty20 league. Although all three were banned for life by the BCCI, they were cleared of all charges by a Delhi court in 2015.
With 87 wickets in 27 Test appearances, alongside the 75 wickets he amassed in the 53 ODI matches he played for his country, the signing of Sreesanth would be a remarkable coup for the team from Fife. Glenrothes have enjoyed increasing success over recent years, climbing from the lower reaches of the Scottish game and into the top tier for the first time in 2016. The recent signing of Scottish international Safyaan Sharif is an illustration of both their resources and ambition, and the prospect of a bowling attack led by Sharif and Sreesanth is a tantalising one indeed.
How the signing will work in practice remains to be seen. Even with the permission of the BCCI, Sreesanth will still require clearance from Cricket Scotland, whose rules demand that an overseas player has either played first class cricket within the past three years or holds the equivalent of an ECB Level 2 coaching certificate. But if all questions can be answered and the pathway smoothed, the prospect of one of the most fascinating characters in world cricket plying his trade in the Eastern Premiership is an enticing one.
Whatever may happen, we can be sure it won’t be dull.
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