Something Is Wrong About Cricket In India


N Srinivasan has been given a clean chit by the Justice Mudgal Committee, and the investigations have neared conclusion with not many alleged of grave charges of fixing games. It has failed to provide closure to the audience of the sport (and how big is that!).

The series of events is so long, that it is all blurry to remember the sequence. It isn’t clear who has done what; but in all that confusion, one thing is certain – something is off about the Indian Premiere League, and by and large about cricket in India.

In India, cricket is always in the headlines, but it has been there for all the controversial reasons since last year. The sport has lost a lot of credibility. The structure and involvement of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials in IPL team ownerships has been contentious, and ever since the betting scandal came under the spotlight, it has raised more controversial questions. For instance, why does the BCCI president own a team in the IPL? Followed up by – Wouldn’t that encourage favouritism during national team selection? Why is the cricket team captain president of the company owned by the BCCI president?

Many other questions pop up whenever the organisational structure and ownership pattern of IPL is observed. Facts are in the open. Gurunath Meiyappan has been involved in betting, and was a CSK official, according to the committee findings; he is the son-in-law of the BCCI chief, N. Srinivasan; N. Srinivasan is the Managing Director of India Cements; India Cements (N. Srinivasan) owns Chennai Super Kings. Connect the dots and the most-generic perception is that Srinivasan must have some role in the whole issue. The BCCI president-in-exile may not have had anything to do with it, but his proximity to the events makes the general public suspicious of him, and eventually the organisation governing cricket in India.

The involvement of the IPL CEO Sundar Raman with bookies makes it all the more suspicious. Furthermore, the link of Raj Kundra, another owner of an IPL team (Rajasthan Royals) with bookmakers, alongside the involvement of Rajasthan’s players in match-fixing, all but taints the sport.

If there is one thing that has been established is that the Indian Premier League isn’t sacrosanct – which is unhealthy for the sport. Cricket has been hurt more by the foul links of owners and officials. These top officials may very well walk unscathed at the expense of the lesser individuals (players like Sreesanth, Chavan, and Chandila have been banned for life).

A change in the ownership policy in the IPL and better monitoring mechanisms may help to counter this issue, but in actuality, that is utopian. Suspicion will prevail, more allegations will be made, more articles will be written, but time will pass, the officials will be back on their seats in their chambers, and cricket will feature round the year – which people will watch; one thing would be missing – the trust would be lost.

Vikas Arora

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