“A billion betrayed,” screams one over-the-top headline while others express shock, anguish and dismay at the latest IPL spot-fixing scandal involving Sreesanth. Such hyperbole is all part of the game when it comes to Indian cricket.
A billion people do not watch cricket; the real number is probably in the tune of a few hundred millions and not all of them are that passionate. It is a relatively vocal minority that drives the ad industry which in turn drives the money industry of cricket.
If one looks at the TRP ratings of IPL matches, then it is still a fraction of those that watch ODIs and Tests. And of course an IPL is absolutely nothing when it comes to a World Cup.
So the true emotions to the current saga would be more to the tune of resignation, denial, “I told you so” and “Who cares, I don’t take IPL that seriously anyway”, nothing like the screaming panellists on TV news channels who behave as if someone has plunged a dagger in their backsides.
In fact all will be forgotten by the time the playoffs begin and the final will be treated as if it’s the greatest show on earth.
One lawyer even pans out a strategy during a debate on how the whole case will fall apart in the courts and Sree will be free in a matter of years.
Who can blame his cynicism? The match-fixing scandal of the 1990s had shocked the nation and when one looks back at it now then one can safely say that absolutely nothing happened.
Not a single conviction took place.
In 2003 Ajay Jadeja got his ban overturned followed by Ata-ur-Rehman in 2006 and Saleem Malik in 2008.
Mohammed Azharuddin became a Congress Lok Sabha MP in 2009 and got his ban overturned in 2012.
Also, what is the difference between the IPL spot-fixing scandal of 2012 and that of 2013? The only difference in Sreesanth: Remove him and they’re the same. If we got over 2012, why shouldn’t we get over 2013?
In fact in last year’s spot-fixing scandal, the likes of Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali were banned for just year.
The only convictions that have happened are Pakistani Salman Butt and his two accomplices and that too because it happened on English soil. You can rest assured that all the fixers on Indian and Pakistani soil will get cleanly away.
The truth is that whether it is match-fixing or some other major tragedy, it only lasts till the next major triumph is around the corner.
The same team which was rubbished for being 125 all down in February 2003 was hailed for reaching the World Cup final in the very next month.
After the ODI 2007 World Cup first round exit, MS Dhoni’s house was vandalized. In the very same year he captained India to the T20 WC and then reached such dizzying heights that his endorsements surpassed that of even the great Sachin Tendulkar.
The overseas 0-8 Test debacle has been forgotten thanks to the recent 4-0 Australia whitewash.
The truth is that India is nowhere in the world in football, hockey, basketball, volleyball or any other team sport and has absolutely no choice but to come back to cricket all the time.
The truth is that so much money is involved in cricket that advertisers, TV channels and commentators cry foul whenever a major tragedy occurs, but then slowly and steadily veer back the Indian fan to the game.
The truth is that the illegal betting industry in India is in the tune of thousands of crores and the government is in absolutely no condition to crack down upon it for it includes a lot of bigwigs, unlimited bookies and even the underworld.
They will keep offering money to cricketers and will be happy even if less than 5% reciprocate their demands.
The truth is that the BCCI is the smartest organization around and it knows that people suffer a Ghajini-style short term memory loss and all it has to do is quietly ride out the storm which may last for a few days and at maximum just a couple of weeks!
Till the next celebration in Indian cricket then!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/