India pacer S. Sreesanth, being probed over charges of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, on Monday maintained that he was innocent at a hearing before the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) held in Delhi.
The closed-door hearing, conducted by ACU head Ravi Sawani at ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, lasted almost three hours.
Sreesanth emerged out of the meeting relaxed and upbeat. “I am more than happy to wait patiently for the day [when I am proved innocent]. By God’s grace, everything is going [on] well. I have full faith in [the] BCCI,” the cricketer told The Hindu over phone from Delhi airport before taking the flight back home.
Sreesanth said the hearing went on well and he was “positive” about its outcome. “I presented my side of the story and now I am waiting for the day I will be asked to appear before the BCCI’s disciplinary committee,” he said.
The disciplinary committee is expected to convene a hearing based on the ACU chief’s report.
Sreesanth said he gave his best shot in every game he had played and every single ball he had sent down: “I will never cheat cricket.”
The cricketer, who has resumed practice, said he had to restrict himself to the Edappally school ground as he was not allowed to use facilities owned by the BCCI or the Kerala Cricket Association. “Hopefully, I will be able to get back to a proper cricket field rather than [resorting] to tennis ball cricket in a school ground.”
Though Sreesanth didn’t reveal the details of the hearing, it is learnt from sources that the cricketer was primarily asked about his relationship with Jiju Janardhanan, a co-accused and alleged go-between to cricketers and bookies. Sreesanth reportedly said Jiju was a friend and a cricketer with whom he had played.
By organising a hearing without waiting for the charge sheet to be filed, the BCCI was giving Sreesanth a chance to prove his innocence and return to the cricketing fold, said sources close to the cricketer.
“The BCCI has initiated action solely based on the charges levelled by the Delhi Police. Going by how the case fell flat like ninepins and the very strong language used by the judge against the Delhi Police and the fact that no case has been made out against Sreesanth, the BCCI will be naturally guided by those considerations,” said Sreesanth’s counsel and senior lawyer Rebecca John.