Tainted Indian pacer S Sreesanth's ban for alleged spot-fixing will end next August, BCCI Ombudsman D K Jain has ordered, observing that the cricketer is well past his prime having already served six years.
The BCCI banned Sreesanth, who is now 36, for life in August 2013 along with his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan for indulging in alleged spot-fixing in the IPL of that year.
But on March 15 this year, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee's order.
Now, in an order passed on August 7, Jain said "ends of justice" would be met by making it a seven-year suspension and letting him play next year.
"...for Mr Sreesanth, who is now in his late thirties, his prime years as a Cricketer, particularly as a fast bowler may already be over," Jain reasoned in his order.
"... I am of the view that banning Mr. Sreesanth from participating in any kind of commercial Cricket or from associating with any activities of the BCCI or its affiliates, for a period of seven years with effect from 13.09.2013, i.e. the date from which, the period of ban imposed by the Disciplinary Committee had commenced, will meet the ends of justice," Jain said in the order.
In April this year, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph said that Jain would reconsider within three months, the quantum of punishment for Sreesanth for his involvement in the spot-fixing episode.
The BCCI, on February 28, told the apex court that the life ban imposed on Sreesanth was "fully sustainable in law" as he had "tried to influence" a match.
Sreesanth's lawyer countered the arguments and told the court that no spot-fixing took place during the IPL match and that allegations levelled against the cricketer were not substantiated by evidence.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the BCCI, referred to the recorded telephonic conversations in the matter and told the court that it was clear that money was demanded and was "probably received" also.
He said there were allegations that Rs 10 lakh was paid to Sreesanth for conceding 14 runs in his second over in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between the Rajasthan Royals and the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in May 2013.
Sreesanth has all along maintained that the allegations are false and he is innocent.
The Kerala speedster turned up in 27 Tests, 53 ODIs and 10 T20 Internationals for India, claiming 169 wickets in all. He last played for India back in 2011.