If anything, the ongoing spot-fixing scandal in IPL has not just exposed the seamier side of the tournament, but also the gross ineffectiveness of the two administrative bodies, the ICC and the BCCI. While the Dubai-based ICC is known to be a mere puppet of the cash-rich BCCI, on its part, the Board has yet again lived up to its reputation of being a bully and worse still, insensitive to reality.
There are bound to be startling disclosures in the coming days and probably, more names, those of players and administrators/officials, could also surface, but what good it will do is anybody’s guess, given track record of cricket administration, both global and domestic. The fact that BCCI chief Srinivasan is holidaying in Kodaikanal with all that is going on reflects what he thinks of the scandal.
The ICC was quick on the trigger to remove Asad Rauf from the Champions Trophy umpires panel at the mere mention in the media that the Pakistani national might be questioned by the Mumbai police. Unless there is substantial evidence not made public of Rauf’s culpability, ICC’s move is difficult to fathom. Yet, the same ICC has not thought it fit to even censure the BCCI for its gross failure to prevent corruption in IPL.
As for the BCCI, it has failed to heed warnings of fixing, be it spot or match, that came to light last year when it punished five first-class cricketers who admitted to being approached by bookies during the 2012 IPL. Had the BCCI been proactive and put in place a system to closely monitor IPL teams, the current scandal perhaps could have been averted.
However, the BCCI, with all the arrogance born out of a massive bank account and clout through its politician office-bearers representing both the ruling and opposition parties at the centre, sat on its fat haunches only to now find itself in the midst of another scandal that if probed well and with due diligence, could shake the very foundations of cricket in India.
BCCI’s reaction, and also those of the IPL franchise team owners to the ongoing sordid saga of fixers and bookies, is laughable. The investigations so far have indicated that the cancer called fixing has eaten into the vitals of IPL that from a cricket tournament has become a haven for illegal activities such as spot and match fixing, besides its notorious after-match parties, the cheer girls, the honey traps and what have you.
Further, the exposure of one of the franchise team principals, Gurunath Meiyappan of the Chennai Super Kings, to the bookies, also does not seem to worry the BCCI if one were to go by the absence of any reaction. Meiyappan, a former car racing driver, is the son-in-law of BCCI chief Srinivasan. The BCCI should have asked Meiyappan to step down pending enquiry.
Despite IPL’s credibility being under scrutiny, if the stadium is full, then mark it down to the gullibility or naivete of the paying public, majority of which treat the matches as a soiree of sorts or a social occasion or an outing for the kids. Most couldn’t care less whether someone deliberately bowled a full toss or a no-ball or a wide or dropped a catch or generally under-performed so long as the lights are on and the music is blasting away. Few are really into the nuances of cricket.
Thus, the BCCI is aware that the public is hooked to IPL no matter what. With the awareness that they have a money-spinner (in more ways than one!) that guarantees a fat annual income, I doubt the Board would give in to demands to scrap the league. The stakes are just too high and those involved are anything but petty shop owners.
Look at the BCCI’s office-bearers – you have officials from Congress and the BJP working in close harness while setting aside their political differences. Down the line, many of the affiliated units have politicians of different hues as their office-bearers. Thus, the influence enjoyed by the BCCI as also in its rank and file, is simply enormous.
Hence I believe that the BCCI will survive the current scandal. The least you can say about Srinivasan is that he is ruthless and extremely well-connected. Additionally, he has the likes of fellow-BCCI officials Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley, both seasoned politicians, to lean on. Indian politicians and sports administrators are past-masters at surviving scams and scandals. They will come through this time around too.
A few years back, the ED and other agencies had begun investigations into the money-flow in IPL. There were strong indications of money-laundering through off-shore accounts in Mauritius and such other tax havens. Yet, we didn’t hear anything concrete or conclusions, if at all any. And now, the ED and income tax authorities have launched another, but similar investigation!
At the risk of being branded cynical, I will say that I do not have much hope of the police catching the big fish in the spot-fixing scandal. There is nothing new to the nexus theory involving Karachi or Dubai-based fixers, the Bollywood, the cricketers, the umpires or even administrators. Everyone seems to know this, but nothing is being done.
Will it be any different now? Only time will tell.