Till Wednesday not many in the cricket circles here had heard of Jiju Janardanan. But all that changed once news about the arrest of three Rajasthan Royals players broke. It soon emerged that one Jiju Janardanan was also arrested in connection with the case and was suspected of having played the role of mediator between the arrested players and bookies.
Suddenly the electronic media was agog with stories describing Jiju as a cousin of Sreesanth. But then who exactly is Jiju?
It has now emerged that though he is not a relative of Sreesanth, he was indeed very close to the cricketer. Jiju, an all-rounder, played for the Ernakulam Cricket Club for a few years in the second half of the 2000s. Incidentally, it’s the same club Sreesanth had played for from a very young age. Sources in the cricket club said both played alongside each other. Before that they had attended the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, the sources pointed out.
Jiju, with his roots in Thalassery, was born and brought up in Gujarat where he played most of his cricket. He landed in the city to play for the Ernakulam Cricket Club four or five years ago. He gave a good account of himself with hard-hitting knocks and bowling exploits.
The idea of playing here was to give himself a chance of being selected in the State squad, the sources said. It is learnt that Sreesanth actively pressed his case by voicing a high opinion of his friend’s skills. However, it is learnt that Sreesanth’s mother was not very happy about his son’s friendship with Jiju. She has now pointed the finger at Jiju for the mess Sreesanth finds himself in.
The sources said that like most cricketers who learnt their trade in North India, Jiju was aggressive on the field. But off the field, he seemed a normal guy.
He got along well with his teammates despite his patchy Malayalam speaking skills, a member of the Ernakulam Cricket Club said.
Though he found a place in the Kerala Cricket Association XI in one of the fixtures of the Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup against the Hyderabad XI played in 2009, he never managed to get selected to the Kerala Ranji Trophy squad. He also played for the State under-25 team.
Not having met his objective of making it to the State senior squad, Jiju returned to Gujarat last year, armed with a no-objection certificate issued by the Kerala Cricket Association. It is learnt that he turned up for selection trials of Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur but didn’t make it.
The sources said Jiju was in the process of getting back to the Ernakulam Cricket Club when the scandal occurred.