AFTER all these years it has turned out to be actually a bowler’s game. Fresh evidence from the Indian Premier League corroborates it was easier to entrust a bowler with a bookie’s brief than expect a batter to deliver to a betting ring’s diktats. But of course the IPL has not invented the cheats. It is a glamorous platform that offers an easy-access casino to gamblers. Apparently, it was thought that with so many games generating so much excitement, the good will camouflage the bad and ugly before a cricket-crazy audience. It may have remained that way but for a few intelligence officers who kept an eye on small details such as who was bowling with a small towel pinned to his trouser and when. The biggest disappointment in the case, Rajasthan Royals’ Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, is a restless soul and surely someone who can never be confidently expected to go under 14 an over. Police say they were able to spot a scheme in his jittery gestures — ominous signs which could lead to the unearthing of more instances of cheating.
The classical argument would place loyalty as a virtue that must always prevail over monetary gains, by legal means and from illegal channels. That idea of faithfulness cannot be synchronised with modern-day concepts of clubs made up of professionals bought at auctions. There will always be cheats, those not sure of their place in the side for too long maybe more inclined to a bit of quick-fixing of their own. The fixing does not just jeopardise the game; what could be of bigger concern to the business-minded is that it endangers an industry. It appears near impossible to uproot the betting mafia, from wherever it operates, at one go, although an effort targeted at the bookies must be seen to be under way for the morale of cricket fans. For the moment, the realistic way forward is to establish the guilt and make examples out of the guilty.