S Sreesanth, the controversial right-arm swing bowler who won the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup with India, has called time on a career that began 20 years ago. The 39-year-old, who represented his country 90 times across all three formats, finished with 169 international wickets.
Sreesanth announced his retirement on Twitter. "With much sadness but without regret, I say this with a heavy heart: I am retiring from the Indian domestic (first-class and all formats) cricket. For the next generation of cricketers..I have chosen to end my first-class cricket career. This decision is mine alone, and although I know this will not bring me happiness, it is the right and honorable action to take at this time in my life."
This announcement brought the curtain down on a career that had just recently restarted after Sreesanth overturned a life ban from the sport for his involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal. He was one of three Rajasthan Royals players to be punished, but in 2019, the Supreme Court set his sentence aside, which prompted the BCCI to reduce his ban to seven years, a period that ended in September 2020.
That made Sreesanth eligible to play domestic cricket again, and he returned in January 2021 as part of the Kerala T20 squad. Sreesanth played most of the white-ball games last season, but has announced his retirement just one first-class game into 2021-22.
Even as a raw talent, Sreesanth was eye-catching, the highlight of it being the delivery he bowled to hit Sachin Tendulkar's stumps in the Challenger Trophy. His outswinger was a thing of beauty, not to mention that he was the architect of one of India's greatest Test wins. Fresh from a tour of the West Indies, where he handed Brian Lara a duck, Sreesanth, then 23, picked up a five-for that gave India their first Test win in South Africa.
All that skill came with its set of quirks, best exemplified when he hit Andre Nel for a six and began dancing in front of the bowler, waving his bat around.
Sreesanth' star would rise even higher by 2007, at the T20 World Cup, where he took six wickets and the all-important title-winning catch. He went on to play two games at the 2011 ODI World Cup, including the final, and ended his career with two World Cup medals - an achievement only a handful of players can boast of.
"Today is a difficult day for me, but it is also a day of reflection and gratitude," Sreesanth's statement on Twitter read. "Playing for Ecc, Ernakulam district, varies diff. league and tournament teams, Kerala state cricket association, BCCI, Warwickshire county cricket team, Indian airlines cricket team, Bpcl, and ICC has been a tremendous honor.
"During my 25 years career as cricket player, I've always pursued success and winning cricket games, while preparing and training with the highest standards of competition, passion and perseverance. It has been an honor to represent my family, my teammates and the people of India."
Overall, Sreesanth took 87 Test wickets and finished with a bowling average of 37.59. In ODIs, he took 75 wickets at an economy of 6.05. In his ten T20Is, he took 12 wickets.
While fighting it out against the BCCI to have his ban revoked through the 2010s, Sreesanth also dabbled in the entertainment industry, appearing in regional cinema, reality TV shows and dance events. In 2016, he also contested the Kerala assembly elections but lost. Most recently, Sreesanth did not make the shortlist for the 2022 IPL auction despite putting his name in.