Hunter and Punter

Posted on June 18, 2010

Shashank Saurav:

With Adam Gilchrist recently asseverating that IPL is a soft target for match fixing, it has become clear that both hunters and punters are hunting Indian Premier League. The hunters in this case are the Modis, the Pawars and other culpable honchos heading this money-laundering factory and punters are the people who brought about the downfall of cricketers like Azharuddin and Jadeja almost a decade back. Although BCCI would quickly rubbish all these claims, the truth is gradually coming out in bits and pieces. It is hilarious to see Mr. Deshpande and Mr. Lalit Modi still jumping to the defense of Sharad Pawar when the man is facing fire from the Media as well as BCCI, with his position in such jeopardy.

It would be wrong to rail against Mr. Pawar just because he has a holding in City Corp. What is denunciatory is that he tried to keep this under wraps along with the fact that City Corp. had bid for the Pune franchise. Just when the water got too treacherous to wade around he summed up the courage to accept that he also holds a stake in the Bangalore franchise. Some would call it prudent given the criticism that he is facing, however the actual implications of this assertion remain to be seen. Though we are still not aware of all the facts, the deeply penetrating reach of Mr. Pawar’s political tentacles has come to the fore.

The NCP has already made a statement that Mr. Pawar will remain the agriculture minister and the Congress also seems bent on letting him continue.
The BJP sensing another possible Shashi Tharoor like situation is using all its resources to bring about the ouster of Mr. Pawar from the cabinet.
However, with every passing day it seems inevitable that there will not be any change in agricultural ministry. As it is this would not have made much of a difference in Mr. Pawar’s political fortunes given the amount of power that he wields. Let us just hope that the ministers learn some lessons from this episode and do not use cricket grounds to dump their black money.

With so many national issues like the Naxal threat, water crisis, inflation etc demanding attention it is chagrining to see the political forces intertwined in trivial matters like these. Nevertheless, this is a sensitive issue but the way it has been handled so far is lamentable. Instead of using media to malign their adversaries, proper legal channels should be used to get this settled. Throwing mud over each other is only going to compound matters and waste everyone’s time.

Now let us turn our attention to the punter. The match fixing scandals have always haunted the BCCI. It is like a grave where a fresh body (read cricketer) is buried every time. Having decimated the careers of so many sportspersons, it is now turning its ugly head towards IPL. Rumors of certain matches being fixed were rampant throughout IPL 2010 and whether or not this affected IPL’s revenue, it sure did harm its global presence. It cannot be ascertained whether matches were fixed or not but certain cricketers did acknowledge being approached by bookies. This year the semifinal between Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers came under the scanner leading to an I-T raid at the Deccan Chargers’ offices. Even last year it was alleged that the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore was fixed and a total of 27 players (including other teams) held key roles. It remains to be seen if BCCI will tackle this problem or neglect it as usual.

The only positive that can be taken from all of this as a viewer is that at least the matches became more interesting and the competition more fierce this year. However as members and the voice of youth community it is our responsibility to make sure that all such financial matters take place with transparency and no person, however politically powerful he might be, has the audacity to cheat the citizens of their hard earned money. Cricket is a platform where a large number of young people are involved so it should be ensured that they do not fall victims to the perpetual greed of the authorities at the highest level.

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