Let’s just begin by saying that last week’s revelations of the IPL match fixing (I refuse to call it ‘spot’ fixing) was hardly surprising for people who have followed the league for the duration of its existence. People might have been mildly shocked to have found that a cricketer who till last year was a centrally contracted player of the BCCI would have been a part of the whole quagmire. However, truth be told people might have been rather shocked when the Delhi Police Commissioner Mr. Neeraj Kumar stated in his now famous press conference the ‘no other players are involved’. In hindsight, that was possibly the most damning statement during the entire press conference because in one sweeping statement he gave a loose clean chit to the rest of the 250 players in the IPL ??
Does anyone believe this ?
Now, any rational person would find it impossible that among the 250 players plying their trade in the IPL only 3 would be the guilty parties when you consider the fact that one of the bookies- Amit Singh- who has been arrested by the Delhi Police used to be a Rajasthan Royals player till last year. Now, Amit Singh must not have become a bookie, -dealing in sums to the tune of Rs. 60 lakhs- in a year’s time, would he? The answer is quite simple- he already was a bookie even when he was turning out for the Rajasthan Royals last year. Right there you see, the Commissioner’s statement seems hollow- albeit technically correct. So, it can be safely assumed that no sane IPL follower will believe in the verdict that was delivered by Mr. Neeraj Kumar on the basis of the limited sphere of his investigation and similarly board President Mr. Srinivasan’s ‘few rotten eggs’ statement also sounds hollow.
The recent revelations that we have been fed on for the past week about the involvement of Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila have been nothing short of repetitive with constant updates on what the players bought, what the price of their clothes was and some tit bits about the bookies involved. That has been nothing but a conscious effort to divert the attention away from the real issue. How deep does this whole thing run? How many players are on the take? Are they really investigating the match last year where the Royals failed to score 15 runs from 12 balls with 9 wickets in hand? The BCCI has now nominated surveillance officers who will solely keep a watch on what the players are doing but that is again a reactionary measure which in the long run would have no effect.
In addition to that, every IPL match where you would now see a player like Pollard dropping three catches in a row you would have faint suspicions as to whether a bookie is making a fortune on the side. I am not in any way accusing Pollard of doing anything illegal but to a spectator every uncommon event on the field would look suspicious. Every over where the bowler would adjust his field with a bit of deliberation or better still keep a hanky tucked into his trousers will raise suspicions. In the year 2000, the Indian Government ordered a full scale CBI probe into match fixing under similar circumstances after the Delhi Police had stumbled upon Hansie Cronje’s compromising conversations with a UK based bookie and as you might recall the investigation revealed startling facts that rocked Indian cricket for a long time.
However, it is highly unlikely that something of that sort will ever happen in relation to the IPL which in itself as a tournament suffers from a credibility crisis because of the murky ownership structures of some of its franchises. It simply cannot allow its stock to go down further with the revelations of a widespread investigation. An investigation would surely make the deep lying rot come out in the open. Last year’s India TV sting operation exposed 5 players on camera but the BCCI simply suspended them and carried on. This year it has reached fever pitch due to the involvement of Sreesanth who is- needless to say- a high profile scalp. As a conclusion, it can be said that the IPL is a private tournament run by a group of private individuals with teams owned by private corporations and they would not take the sort of action that would harm their own interests so much. However, if they are prepared to take the long view then it would surely be better to clear the rot than to nurture it.
Bottom-line – dig deeper (don’t cover up) – arrest all guilty whether it be bookies, players, or even members of the BCCI – only then will respectability return to the game that the masses love and follow.
Image Source : IANS