IPL: A league of extraordinarily corrupt 'gentlemen’

With the arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan (above), the BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s position has become untenable © IANS

In these times when umpires can be manipulated and bought to spot-fix matches, the DRS would have worked as a deterrent to such corrupt practices. Those in the business of fixing realised this fact and opposed it. What other reason could be behind the BCCI’s opposition to it? Asks Sapan Kapoor.

The world has come to know of appalling corruption involving the arrest of three Indian players and a franchise owner in alleged spot-fixing and wagering. If this was not enough, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has withdrawn Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf from the upcoming Champions Trophy for his alleged involvement in spot-fixing and betting being probed by the Mumbai police.

In all this, the biggest losers have been those millions of naive cricket fans all around the world who blindly followed the Indian Premier League (IPL), cheered every six and four hit by their favourite batsman, every wicket taken by their team, who jeered at every dropped catch and tweeted every grotesque incident taking place on the field.

At the time of writing this blog, approximately six million tweets pertaining to the IPL have been counted. Alas, those credulous fans took it all for real.

The eyes of Adam Gilchrist must have shined with delight when he saw that loose, short-pitched delivery by Shantakumaran Sreesanth coming his way in Mohali. The Australian veteran crisply dispatched it to the boundary, not knowing that the ball as per the spot-fixing script. Sreesanth had agreed to a bookie to yield more than 13 runs in that over for Rs 4 million in Indian currency.

My mind dwells upon several dubious decisions given by the umpire Asad Rauf in the IPL. Those questionable leg before wicket decisions by Rauf could have been corrected by the third umpire had the Decision Review System (DRS) been in place in the league. But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not in favour of using the system. Why? Why is the BCCI so vehemently against a system which aims to add transparency to the game?

Millions of cricket lovers and followers in India and the world at large were at their wits end at this stand taken by the BCCI on the DRS. Now, the answer they have been seeking to this riveting question is obvious.

Apparently, the BCCI headed by N Srinivasan, whose son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan has been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing and betting in the IPL, did not want transparency in the game.

In these times when umpires can be manipulated and bought to spot-fix matches, the DRS would have worked as a deterrent to such corrupt practices. Those in the business of fixing realised this fact and opposed it. What other reason could be behind the BCCI’s opposition to it?

With the arrest of Meiyappan, the BCCI chief’s position has become untenable. He shall find it difficult to distance himself from the alleged misdeeds of his son-in-law and also some of the dubious decisions he has taken during his tenure. For instance, he subverted the BCCI’s constitution, in connivance with others, to allow his firm India Cement to buy Chennai Super Kings and thus indulged in brazen conflict of interest. His appointment of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as vice-president of India Cement was also a clear conflict of interest.

Dhoni’s close association with Meiyappan and Srinivasan has left him on a sticky wicket. Maybe, Dhoni was not aware of the links with bookies whilst sharing team strategies with Meiyappan, who allegedly wagered with inside information. Dhoni will have to come clean on this. The captain should know his silence is not helping his cause.

Moreover, if Delhi and Mumbai police are to be believed, what has surfaced so far in the spot-fixing is just the tip of the iceberg. More players and teams are likely to be exposed, if the police has to be believed. We can expect some explosive revelations in the coming days.

With pressure mounting, Srinivasan may have to go. But will that solve the grave issues that Indian cricket faces today? There’s something seriously rotten in the BCCI — and it starts from the top.

When the top leadership of any organisation itself stands compromised, such situations are bound to happen. The need of the hour is to clean up the body. Any effort to brush things under the carpet would only cause further damage Indian cricket.

The biggest challenge before the BCCI, however, is to win back the confidence of cricket lovers who feel cheated and duped today. Needless to say it’s not going to be an easy task. Trust once lost is hard to regain.

(Sapan Kapoor is a history buff and India-based journalist. He blogs at sehar-anawakening.blogspot.in. The above article is reproduced with permission from www. http://tribune.com.pk/)