Keeping in mind forthcoming international engagements, including the Olympic qualifiers next year, Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday pardoned drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and mid-fielder Sardara Singh.
HI had slapped a two-year ban on disciplinary grounds in late August and debarred the two from all competitions. Instrumental in crucial wins in the past, the two were banned by HI’s disciplinary committee for playing truant during national camps. However, quitting the camp last month ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy was the last straw.
The players, who had the option to appeal against the verdict, gave in writing that they would not repeat the mistakes. “Since the players admitted their fault, it was decided to
give them a reprieve,” said Anupam Ghulati, HI executive director.
He said in case the players were found guilty again, the ban would be re-imposed. The players have also communicated to HI that they are fit and in the right frame of mind to don national colours.
Soon after the HI panel announced the verdict, the players were directed to join the camp so that they could be considered for the Australia tour.
“Sandeep and Sardara are expected to join the camp at Bangalore in a day or two,” said Ghulati. The selection trials are scheduled in Bangalore on Sept 26, and almost all the players short-listed have reported.
When contacted, Sandeep said , “I will be joining the camp on Thursday and the focus will be to work hard and win a berth in the team.”
Meanwhile, coach Michael Nobbs is apprehensive about the duo’s behaviour. “The way they walked out of the camp still rankles. Apprehensions remain about their intentions. But in the interests of the Indian team I welcome them back.”