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Sanju Samson among 13 players sanctioned by Kerala

Sanju Samson celebrates his hundred Associated Press

Sanju Samson is among 13 players who have been punished by the Kerala Cricket Association for dissent against captain Sachin Baby. Five of the players have been suspended for three matches, while eight have been fined the equivalent of BCCI match fees for three one-day games.

The five players who are suspended are Raiphi Gomez, Sandeep Warrier, Rohan Prem, KM Asif and Mohammed Azharuddeen. The eight who have only earned fines are Abhishek Mohan, KC Akshay, Fabid Ahmed, MD Nidheesh, Salman Nizar, Sijomon Joseph, VA Jagadeesh and Samson.

The fees collected by all the players will go to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief fund, and the players have to remit the amount by September 15, and submit proof that they have done so to the KCA.

The five who have been suspended will miss Kerala's first three matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50-overs competition. Kerala are in Group B, and their first three games are against Chhattisgarh (September 19), Hyderabad (September 20) and Odisha (September 23).

ESPNcricinfo understands that the 13 players had written a letter to the KCA during a recent visit by a Kerala side to Sri Lanka in June, stating that they were unhappy with Baby's leadership. However, they didn't discuss the issue with Baby or the manager on tour, and instead went directly to the KCA.

The KCA conducted an enquiry and came to the conclusion that "the players were involved in endangering the harmony, stability and interest of the Association and also engaged in the signature campaign against the captain. There was a deliberate intention to defame the captain as well as KCA."

People close to the team indicated that dissatisfaction with Baby's leadership had been ongoing for several seasons now, though KCA officials countered by questioning the timing of the protest, saying that no players had raised any protest last year when Kerala made the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 quarterfinals, going down to eventual champions Vidarbha by 412 runs.

In a separate sanction, the KCA issued show-cause notices to Samson, Akshay, Nizar and Azharuddeen for "unauthorised absence" from the team hotel during the Capt K Thimmappiah Memorial tournament conducted by the Karnataka State Cricket Association during July-August. Kerala didn't qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament, where teams play each other in three-day fixtures. Samson had earlier been let off with a reprimand by KCA after a similar offence during the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy. On that occasion too, there were conflicting reports about the alleged offence, with the KCA and others seen to be close to Baby alleging indiscipline and Samson maintaining that he was innocent.