India fast bowler Sreesanth has vowed to make a return to competitive cricket now that his ban in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal is over. On their part, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), Sreesanth's home association, is happy to bring him back into the fold for the upcoming domestic season should he prove his form and fitness.
"Sreesanth has shown the keenness to play by training hard and keeping himself fit," Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan told ESPNcricinfo. "We've been in touch [with him]. We will consider him, but it will depend on his form and fitness. But the door is open."
Initially banned for life, Sreesanth's sentence was downgraded to seven years by BCCI ombudsman Justice (retd) DK Jain in August 2019. At the time, Jain had received a directive from the Supreme Court of India to reconsider the ban given Sreesanth had already served six years of the ban and because his "prime years" as a fast bowler were nearly over.
Since lockdown was lifted partially in June, Sreesanth has been training with members of the Kerala Under-23 team and a few senior players at a KCA facility in Ernakulam. "After a long wait, I can play again but there is no place in the country to play now," Sreesanth told Times of India on Monday.
"I even planned to organise a local tournament in Kochi this week so that I could step out onto the field, but decided against it looking at the risks involved, as the number of coronavirus cases in Kerala are increasing."
Currently, Kerala continues to remain in its last phase of lockdown, with sporting activities set to resume from September 21. The KCA is yet to convene a meeting to formalise a training camp for the senior team before naming their probables for the season.
Yohannan confirmed the KCA hadn't received any communication from the BCCI over the status of the domestic season since Sourav Ganguly's email to the associations in August. In that email, Ganguly had stated "BCCI is making all efforts to ensure domestic cricket resumes."
Even as he plots a comeback, Sreesanth is realistic about where he stands with respect to competitive cricket. "From last May, I have put my heart and soul into training," he said. "So when I read about domestic season being a non-starter, I was shattered.
"I even thought of quitting the game but thought I wouldn't be doing justice to myself as all the efforts I've made to play the game would have gone down the drain. If the domestic season in India is cancelled, I will have to look at other options. If there is no cricket here, I might as well request the BCCI to allow me to play abroad."
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo