IPL: A league of extraordinarily corrupt gentlemen

Published: May 27, 2013
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Arrested Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan (left) and his father-in-law and BCCI head N Srinivasan (right). PHOTO: AGENCIES

Players are fixed, umpires are fixed, team owners are fixed, and perchance the whole Indian Premier League (IPL) has been fixed and compromised by vested interests out to subvert the beautiful game of cricket.

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 If this was not enough, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has withdrawn Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf from the upcoming Champions Trophy for his alleged involvement in spot-fixing and betting being probed by the Mumbai police. Rauf abruptly left India earlier this week, forever.

In all this, the biggest losers have been those millions of naive cricket fans all around the world who blindly followed the 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 more than 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-pitch delivery by Sreesanth coming his way in Mohali. The Aussie veteran crisply dispatched it to the boundary without knowing that it was fixed. The former Indian test player had agreed to a bookie to yield more than 13 runs in that over for Rs4 million (Indian currency).

My mind today also dwells upon those several dubious decisions given by the umpire Asad Rauf in the IPL. Those questionable leg before wicket (LBW) decisions by Rauf could have been corrected by the third umpire had the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) 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 UDRS. 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 UDRS would have worked as a deterrent to such corrupt practices. Those in the business of fixing realised this fact and ergo, 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 open conflict of interest. It has also cast a shadow of doubt over Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was recently named as the vice-president of India Cement.

Maybe Dhoni was not aware of all this whilst sharing team strategies with Meiyappan who allegedly used it for wagering and to fix matches. However, Dhoni’s close association with Meiyappan and Srinivasan has left him on a sticky wicket. Dhoni will have to come clean on this and the captain should know his silence is not helping his cause.

Moreover, if Delhi and Mumbai police are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. More players and teams are going to be exposed. We can expect some explosive revelations in the coming days.

With more and more pressure mounting on Srinivasan, ultimately he will 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 all starts from the top.

When the top leadership of any organisation itself stands compromised, these kinds of things are bound to happen. The need of the hour today is to completely clean up the body and any effort to brush things under the carpet would only 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, for the trust once lost is hard to regain.

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Sapan Kapoor

Sapan Kapoor

A history buff and India-based journalist, the author has worked with the Press Trust of India. He blogs at sehar-anawakening.blogspot.in/ and tweets as @dRaconteur.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.