As more cricket fans come out in the open to register their protest against the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal, with even a petition registered in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the remaining matches of the league, the Board of Control for Cricket in India continues with its old practice of passing the buck.
Following a sting operation by a private news channel, ‘India TV’, that showed a group of Indian cricketers allegedly involved in illicit practices in the last edition of the IPL, the BCCI only suspended ‘erring’ players pending preliminary enquiry by a special panel. Five cricketers, T Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Shalab Shrivastava and Amit Yadav (both Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali (Delhi Giants in the now banned Indian Cricket League, ICL) were suspended from all forms of the game.
But was this action enough to act as a deterrent? Not really. Nothing concrete was done to investigate the murky deals and no strict action was taken to set a precedent.
This time too, in the sixth season of the IPL, the BCCI has in a way shrugged off its responsibility by saying it has no control over the bookies. It seems the Indian cricket board is only interested in safeguarding the interests of its cash-rich brand IPL rather than protecting cricket from corrupt practices.
This is however only one aspect of match-fixing and spot-fixing in cricket. The role of the International Cricket Council (ICC) — cricket's governing body — is also questionable on various counts. Its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit [ACSU], meant to keep a check on match-fixing, is a ‘toothless tiger’. The BCCI, the world’s richest cricket board governing the IPL, is also like a ‘dead horse’.
The image of the IPL has been tarnished after the arrest of tainted trio – S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila – along with a bookie Amit Singh. According to the police, the trio have confessed to spot-fixing as well. It is indeed sad news for cricket enthusiasts who nurture passion for the game. Sadly, we are living in an age where everyone seems to be in great hurry to earn quick fame and quick bucks and the IPL is the epitome of that.
This IPL, it seems, is less about cricket and more about the half-naked dancing cheerleaders, late night parties, tequila hangovers, and of course the off-putting presence of the bollywood stars inside the stadiums.
Not long ago, it was quite fashionable to indulge in Pakistan bashing. The bashing exercise meant that you were awarded a few certificates for free: “liberal, well educated, modern-thinking individual and enlightened person”. If any Pakistani national was charged for rash driving in Dubai, breaking traffic signals in Berlin, crossing the speed limits in Tokyo, fighting inside a London nightclub, or, found drunk on the streets of Damascus after a verbal brawl with a native, we had ready-made arguments from the "enlightened" class: "No wonder the culprit belongs to Pakistan. Their country, I'm sorry, is in a terrible mess. A failed state, you know! It is a safe sanctuary for the Taliban."
After three cricketers from Pakistan, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, were found guilty of spot-fixing in England, one more sentence was added to the argument: "Pakistanis even cheat in cricket, that's so pathetic!”
It is certainly not about where people are from. Money entices all. Greed, glory, grandeur and glamour overpower even the wiser heads.
It does not make a difference if someone is from a humble background with less or no education. Sreesanth is a case in point. He comes from Kerela – a state known for its highest literacy rate in India (nearly 94 per cent). Sreesanth was not Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, who many thought was lured into spot-fixing because of his background, lower socio-economic status and poor educational background.
Let's neither forget nor ignore the history of match-fixing in cricket which is not country-specific: Azhar-ud-Din, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, H Gibbs, H Williams, M Samuels, Salim Malik, Amir, Asif, Butt, and now add Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan to the long list.
The million dollar question is whether the ICC has acted tough against the corrupt practices and the players found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute?
Selective fixing of blame is not a panacea. Banning guilty players for life could be the answer. It is time to fix the fixers irrespective of the colour of their skin, nationality, faith and background. ————————————————————————————————————————————————
The writer has served as Editor at Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has contributed features for the BBC. He can be reached at email@example.com ———————————————————————————————————————————————— The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.