Bol­ly­wood bowler’s new start... in Fife!

In­dian cricket hero head­ing for Glen­rothes

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By Pa­tri­cia Kane

IN his na­tive In­dia, he is a house­hold name: a Test crick­eter turned film star. Mar­ried to roy­alty, he boasts a mil­lion­aire life­style and more than a mil­lion fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia.

Yet the man known to his le­gion of fans sim­ply as Sree is set to turn his back on his home­land – and move to a small Scots town.

Shan­thaku­maran Sreesanth, fast-medium bowler and Bol­ly­wood idol, has an­nounced he may soon don his whites again to play for Glen­rothes Cricket Club.

Within the next few weeks, the 34-year-old fa­ther-of-two, who has never been to Fife, hopes to get the go-ahead to join the team.

Although it may seem a come­down, the crick­eter who – along with his beau­ti­ful wife Bhu­vnesh­wari Ku­mari and young fam­ily – con­stantly fea­tures in the pages of celebrity mag­a­zines, is con­sid­er­ing the switch to Scot­land as a way of re­turn­ing to the sport he loves. The move will mark the end of a tur­bu­lent three years for the two-time world cham­pion, who has played in 27 Test matches.

Speak­ing from his home in In­dia, Sreesanth said: ‘The only thing miss­ing in my life is cricket. Mak­ing movies is great, but if you ask what I re­ally want to do, it’s play cricket. I don’t want to waste any more of my crick­et­ing years.’

Three years ago, he was still at the top of his game when he was given a life­time ban for an al­leged role in a match-fix­ing scan­dal in the 2013 In­dian Premier League. The charges were later dropped and he was ex­on­er­ated by a Delhi court – but the ban re­mains and there is no for­mal ap­peals process, mean­ing he can’t play cricket. Now Glen­rothes, of Scot­land’s East­ern Premier League, want to give Sreesanth the chance to res­ur­rect his ca­reer. They hope that if he can per­suade the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) to re­con­sider the ban soon, he will be play­ing for them by the sum­mer. Sreesanth said: ‘I haven’t played for three years but if I can get the ban lifted, I will be on the next flight to Scot­land. I would love to play for the club and work with the young­sters.’ Cricket Scot­land will not al­low him to be reg­is­tered as a Glen­rothes player un­til the BCCI is­sues a ‘No Ob­jec­tion Cer­tifi­cate’, which per­mits him to play com­pet­i­tive cricket with­out breach­ing In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC) reg­u­la­tions.

If the In­dian au­thor­i­ties refuse, the club in­tends to take the fight to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport in Switzer­land.

Yesterday, Glen­rothes pres­i­dent Ed­die Gibbs said they were keen to right what they see as an in­jus­tice to­wards ‘a hero of the game’.

He added: ‘He is gen­uinely in­no­cent; this is a mis­car­riage of justice. The BCCI are the only ones who can make this go away, as there is no sys­tem for ap­peal. But they refuse to talk to the player or his rep­re­sen­ta­tives.’

Sreesanth, whose wife be­longs to the Di­wan­pura royal fam­ily of Ra­jasthan, said: ‘I’m not ask­ing for the BCCI to let me back into the In­dian team; but if they would just lift the ban I could start again at club level. Ed­die has be­come like fam­ily to me. He’s given me a great op­por­tu­nity at Glen­rothes.’

Mr Gibbs ad­mit­ted the idea of an in­ter­na­tional star play­ing at their club had caused quite a stir.

Laugh­ing, he said: ‘When I first men­tioned it at the club, the re­ac­tion was shock. We are just a small club and peo­ple had to pinch them­selves. If this comes off, and we’re con­fi­dent it will, there won’t have been a story like this in Scot­tish cricket ever be­fore.’ A BCCI spokesman said: ‘Mr Sreesanth faces a life ban by the BCCI and this has been com­mu­ni­cated to the ICC also.’

HEART-THROB: Shan­thaku­maran Sreesanth, above left, pic­tured with his fel­low Bol­ly­wood star Navya Nair

AC­TOR: Sreesanth, cen­tre, takes a lead­ing role in In­dia’s Danc­ing with the Stars

SPORTS­MAN: Sreesanth in his days play­ing for In­dia

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