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Sunday, December 15, 2019

IPL in a spot


RANJIT BHUSHAN | New Delhi, May 18, 2013 13:59
Tags : IPL | Sp[ot fixing | S Sreesanth | Ajit Chandila | BCCI |

It is a pity that one of the lead contributors to India’s claim to fame as a global soft power, the Indian Premier League (IPL) - which has attracted the best talent worldwide and has showcased the country’s potential as an exciting sporting destination, a tournament which has received accolades not just from local hagiographers but from critical analysts as well - should go down like this.
No matter what is said and done now, the fact is that a big question mark has been put against this prestigious tournament. With the interrogation of three players including star Indian cricketer S Sreesanth and 11 bookies with the promise of more to come, it is make or break time for IPL.

Expectedly, the victims charged with accepting money for spot fixing – as opposed to match fixing – have denied any wrong doing and claim they have been `implicated.’ Implicated by whom? That is the question that needs an answer. Is it just Sreesanth and two other relatively insignificant players, Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan, who stand accused of accepting illegal gratification for certain acts on the field or does the plot run deeper involving big wigs that are way too powerful and politically connected to be touched?
There is reason to believe that the arrests of cricketers and bookies could well be the tip of an iceberg. In the first responses to this unfolding saga, the all powerful BCCI has closed ranks. BCCI chairman N Srinivasan has openly questioned the police version of events saying that ``there is another side to the story.’’ It is slightly intriguing as to why Srinivasan could arrive at that conclusion even without a basic preliminary finding and within hours of the sensational arrests.
Some of most notorious characters in cricket administration - about whom much is known but very little let out in the public domain - have mouthed the strongest condemnation of spot fixing, demanding action against `culprits’, shedding crocodile tears at the steadily declining standards of morality. Equally, well known cricket pundits and leader writers have come out putting a veneer or respectability on the goings on, which suggests that the cartel which runs IPL is way too well greased for truth to ever come out fully.
By all available accounts thus far, the IPL spot fixing story is a heady mix of money, glamour, Bollywood and what else, but Dubai. As the shit hits the ceiling, more and more lascivious tales are coming out of the broom closet. According to one account which appeared in Indian Express, Sreesanth when he was arrested was in the company of a woman, allegedly supplied by one of the bookies as bonus for a good job done on the field! Other media reports have gone as far as to suggest that some cricketers have been taped `performing’ off the field and are in a perfect position to be blackmailed.
All in all a sordid saga where the game of cricket, adored by millions in this country, should be brought down to the level of WWG freestyle wrestling where everyone knows it is a gimmick.
Some top foreign players are too stunned to react; at least one of them, Australia’s Shaun Tait, has publicly expressed his disgust when his name inadvertently appeared in the social media as one of the players who was part of the racket. For most committed and professional cricketers, it must be ignominious to be bracketed along with alleged crooks. Next year, it would be interesting to see if the bidding for IPL attracts the same kind of money as it did this year.
In a way, it is an interesting: cricketers who would not have made one-hundredth of the money they make at IPL in the good old days of Ranji Trophy (it still exists) and other local tournaments, are apparently not happy with what they are making. This remains really lousy advertisement for India's famed soft power. You cannot blame anyone except yourself.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017