‘They thought I was an easy target’ – S Sreesanth

Age of innocence Sreesanth’s family rejoices at the verdict clearing him of all charges.
Age of innocence Sreesanth’s family rejoices at the verdict clearing him of all charges.

Even though the BCCI said it will not lift the ban on you, the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) chairman has stated that you will be allowed to train in the only international stadium of the state, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Kochi. Is more support coming in for you after the verdict?
I am happy about the GCDA decision. I have a long association with the stadium from which I picked up the first lessons of international cricket. The decision has come as a morale booster. Kerala people have always been my strength. What more can a player expect other than the support he receives from his home crowd?
Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) President TC Mathew said that the association will write to the BCCI regarding the lifting of the ban. What do you expect from the BCCI?
The kca has always backed me, and without its support I would not have reached anywhere. The gesture shown by the association to support me is welcome and I am happier for it. I am really looking forward to a positive response from BCCI also. My priority for the time being is not playing for India, but playing for the state in the coming Ranji season and for my club — Ernakulam Cricket Club. I am not in for any competition with anyone, and I do not want to blame anyone for what has happened to me. But I will fight for my right to play cricket. I am already 32, and have got very few cricketing years left. I want to play cricket in the coming days with the same verve and vigour. I pray I will get back the strength and courage to play. I request everyone not to crucify me.
So when do you expect to become as fit as before?
I practised in the nets of Government High School, Edappally. It is a fabulous feeling to be back on the grounds where I started playing cricket using a tennis ball. The session went well, and I am confident of regaining my strength in a few days. I need more match practice and with the GCDA giving me permission to play in Kochi stadium, I am sure of my return to cricket soon. It is only a matter of time before I can bowl my special outswingers. I am not in a hurry and am waiting for the right thing to happen at the right time.
Are you disappointed with the attitude of your Indian team-mates during this period?
I am a little worried about this. Only Viru ‘Paaji’ (Virendra Sehwag) showed faith in me. I am thankful that Kerala has stood by me. I was so happy when our chief minister called to congratulate me after the verdict was out on Saturday. The state media supported me. Lots of people from various parts of the country offered their support. I am also getting huge support from my wife’s state Rajasthan, especially from Jaipur.
What difficulties do you see for your return to the Indian team?
I see no difficulties. If given permission to play Ranji Trophy for Kerala this season, I am hopeful of a grand comeback to the Indian side very soon. I believe that I can still bowl fast and plenty of cricket is left in me.