Sreesanth To Defy BCCI Ban and Push Through His Scotland Plans
Neil Drysdale digs deeper into the Sreesanth story as Indian bowler looks to defy BCCI ban and make switch to Scotland with the help of the courts if necessary.
It’s one of the more improbable stories in Scottish sport, a tale which mixes elements of Slumdog Millionaire and Whisky Galore.
It involves an ambitious Fife cricket club, a charismatic Indian Test star-turned-Bollywood actor, and the looming possibility of a legal case with labyrinthine intricacies.
But now, Glenrothes CC’s efforts to sign Sreesanth and defy the Indian cricket authorities could see the matter finish up in the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
In the past, CAS has ruled on such issues as the British Olympic Association versus the World Anti-Doping Agency and they were the organisation which confirmed that the Russian Olympic Committee could not enter track and field athletes at last year’s Rio Olympics.
There is no indication they could pinpoint Glenrothes on a map. But that might be poised to change.
The New Town club and the 33-year-old paceman, who represented his country in 27 Tests and 53 ODIs have agreed terms, whereby Sreesanth will turn out for them in this summer’s Eastern Premier League. But, because the player was banned for life by the BCCI for being involved in spot-fixing in 2013 – the charges were later dropped in court – he currently finds himself in limbo.
This is increasing the prospect that the matter may escalate into a full-blown global controversy in the weeks ahead. Because, as Glenrothes spokesman, Eddie Gibbs confirmed, the redoubtable Sreesanth is stepping up his fight.
Mr Gibbs said: “The news is that Sreesanth intends to defy the BCCI ban and play club cricket with a “Who will stop me?” attitude. I’ve written to the ICC [cricket’s global governing body] this week and pointed out that Mr Sreesanth was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the Indian High Court in Delhi two years ago.
“As things stand, Mr Sreesanth is in contact with legal representatives in the UK, Switzerland and India. If the BCCI and the ICC do not address the issue, he would have no other choice than to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
Sreesanth experienced a checkered career after making his Test debut against England in 2006. He enjoyed plenty of success on the pitch and built up a massive fan base in his homeland for his exuberant behaviour on and off the pitch.
But there were also a series of spats with high-profile opponents, including England star Kevin Pietersen and former Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, as the prelude to Sreesanth being slapped by his Indian Test colleague, Harbhajan Singh, after a T20 contest.
This led to regular warnings and sanctions from the sport’s disciplinary officials. And Sreesanth has argued he has been vilified by international cricket since his last Test appearance in 2011.
Cricket Scotland has responded to the prospect of Sreesanth travelling north of the Border by saying it would be in breach of ICC regulations if it allowed him to join Glenrothes or any other Caledonian club, but the latter organisation responded they are ready to pursue the matter all the way in the next couple of months.
Mr Gibbs added: “From our point of view, it’s a no-brainer: we have a two-time World Cup winner ready to come and play for our club at his own expense in the summer of 2017.
“The publicity and sponsorship opportunities on the back of such a signing would be priceless, as well as the wider benefits it would bring to both Fife and Scottish cricket.”
There are plenty of precedents for leading international cricketers plying their trade in Scotland. Some of the game’s most distinguished performers have signed with Caledonian clubs, including West Indian star, Gordon Greenidge, at Greenock, Australian skipper, Kim Hughes, at Watsonians and, most recently, Rahul Dravid, who played for the Scottish Saltires in 2003.
Sreesanth is certainly keen to join the stars of Glenrothes, who have also signed Scotland fast bowler, Safyaan Sharif. He said this week: “I want to play for them, they have been very supportive and I really believe I will win my fight. I love cricket and I would be thrilled to be involved again.”
When asked “why Scotland”, he replied quite simply: “Why not?”