Family, friends and fans of S Sreesanth are ecstatic that the charges have been dropped, reports Adarsh Onnatt from Kerala.
Santhakumaran Nair, father of cricketer S Sreesanth, smiles happily watching the news flash that Sreesanth will be given permission to practise at the Jawaharlal Nehru international stadium.
“The stadium is only a walk away from our home, and he has been denied entry to it for the last twoand- a-half-years. With this decision, hopes of him returning to the Kerala Ranji team have come alive,” he says. The spotfixing charges that brought the Indian fast bowler a life ban from the BCCI virtually sent his parents and loved ones into hiding. Santhakumaran says that it was the toughest situation he has faced. “Everywhere we went, people stared at us. We even decided not to go out or pick up our calls. We put ourselves under house arrest,” he says.
The family had spent the whole of Saturday when the verdict was expected in the puja room of the house, praying for Sreesanth. They became nervous when the verdict was postponed from 11 in the morning to afternoon. More anxious moments were in store as the announcement was again postponed to 4.30 pm.
That’s because Delhi Police had sought more time complete the probe. “If the court had taken their request at face value, I think the case would have gone on for more years,” says Santhakumaran.
He added that some vested interests have framed Sreesanth in the case. “I regard this as the second birth for my son. I do not know who targeted him, but those were dark days for Sree and the family.”
He hopes the BCCI ban will be lifted as well and his son would be able to play for India again. “Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has already drafted a letter to BCCI in this regard, which I think will bring a decision in favour of my son,” he says.
Savitri Devi, Sreesanth’s mother, is busy visiting temples these days. “It was really a painful experience to see my son not playing cricket for the last two years. He suffered greatly,” she says.
The cricketing fraternity of the state also was overjoyed by the decision and social media platforms were buzzing with support for Sreesanth once the verdict was out. The reception his fans accorded to him on Sunday (26 July) when he arrived at Nedumbassery airport was emotional. Fans from all walks of life along with kca members and relatives waited for hours to receive the cricketer, chanting slogans.
Film actor Rajeev Pillai, a close friend of the cricketer who was with him during his arrest, says that Sreesanth will play for India again. “The verdict must be a big relief for my friend,” he says.
Many youngsters in the Kerala Ranji Trophy team say they are happy for their “big brother”, but were still reluctant to be named.
S Sujith, a former club cricketer who has played with Sreesanth, says that the news has come as a big relief for those who love cricket in the state.
“He is one of the finest cricketing talents from the state and has represented India after former Kerala pacer Tinu Yohannan. The state ,which has little representation in the Indian team, has been on a ‘blacklist’ since the case was filed. With the verdict, false notions regarding Kerala youngsters are removed.”
He also remembered how kind and supportive Sreesanth was during his club days. “Even after entering the Indian team, he remained humble and polite to us. He was very encouraging. He did not mind spending time with those youngsters who played well and presented them with cricketing gear.s if they fared well even in a club match.”
Arun George, a sports journalist in Kochi, also remembers Sreesanth as a kind, hardworking player. “He has a fighting attitude, which is one of his positives. Though he was booked in the case, he never allowed it to affect his attitude. He has maintained his fitness all through and it will not be a problem for him. If the BCCI lifts the ban then it is only a matter of time before he plays for the Indian side.”