ByÂ Sango Bidani:
When the news came in that S. Shreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested for spot fixing in IPL games, it didn’t come as a surprise but caused great anger, pain and saddened an ardent cricket lover. The irony of it all, Rahul Dravid, one of the most honest, hardworking, true sportsman of the game, his voice choking as he told about the three players from his team having been caught, was a most gut wrenching site. It was a tragedy waiting to happen to Indian cricket given the total lack of accountability of the BCCI to anybody and the fact that the BCCI refused to engage the Anti Corruption Unit in making sure that the IPL remained clean. Will the BCCI ever wake up from its never ending, defiant slumber?
Not too long ago, Pakistan’s Mohammed Ameer, Mohammed Asif and worst of all, captain Salman Butt were caught doing spot fixing and were jailed for a specific number of years for being involved in spot fixing. Similarly, Pakistani spinner Danish Kaneria, playing for English County team Essex, was charged with spot fixing, along with a team mate, the trial of which is still going on in England. Last year also, five umpires were caught on camera having discussions with bookies regarding what decision to give, in favour or against which team. In IPL itself, two cricketers were arrested last year for being involved in taking recreational drugs. And while initially they were suspended, both of them, perhaps unsurprisingly played in their team’s matches in this year’s IPL, the team being Pune Warriors India, and the players being Wayne Parnell from South Africa and Rahul Sharma from India. Even before that five IPL players were banned from playing in IPL matches on the grounds of being suspected of being involved in fixing. So, it was not as if the BCCI was unaware of the possibility of such a thing happening in IPL. It was purely a case of lack of will power to tackle corruption in the domain of cricket so that the game would not get implicated for running a fraudulent cash rich league. This was a tragedy waiting to happen to Indian cricket and unfortunately, even an extremely talented but temperamental player, who played in some of the greatest test matches in the Rainbow nation, got involved in this.
We would do well to remember that when the three Pakistani players were arrested and convicted, then there was a heated debate on national television and even in national dailies whether this was a distinct possibility even in Indian cricket, especially the IPL. At that time, most of the cricket commentators in India, as well the BCCI officials dismissed the idea and brushed the issue under the carpet. We believed that Indian cricket was untouched by this and nothing like this would happen in Indian cricket. However, many ardent cricket fans knew that this was a wilful brushing under the carpet of the issue, given that in 1999-00, Ajay Jadeja and Mohammad Azarhuddin were banned for life for being involved in a bigger corruption, match fixing, along with the then tainted South African skipper, Hansie Cronje, who subsequently died in a plane crash. Interestingly, the ban on Ajay Jadeja, was revoked in 2012 and he immediately started coming on national television as a cricket expert on the pre match and post match analysis shows on Sony Max, related to the Indian Premier League. Surely, it becomes clear from this, that the BCCI was just not serious enough about rooting corruption out of cricket. At least, until now, big ticket corruption in Indian cricketing circles was unknown, save for the incident involving Azarhuddin and Jadeja, who were caught match fixing. But as Harsha Bhogle rightly said, cricket is just a microcosm of the society at large, and since nowadays, we wear corruption as a badge of honour on our sleeve, it’s not surprising that corruption has even reached the domain of cricket.
There is enough evidence to show that BCCI is just not interested in rooting out corruption from the game of cricket. The fact that the BCCI is against WADA dope tests taking place randomly, and the fact that BCCI is not under the ambit of the Right to Information Act shows the lack of will power to get its act together and ensure that at least one domain of society, which the whole country worships and watches, remains clean.
One can only hope that at least now, when such a big taint of corruption has been seen in a mega event like the IPL, the BCCI wakes up from its long, defiant slumber.