IPL has never shaken off suspicions of fixing

Last Updated: Fri, May 24, 2013 06:39 hrs

Like millions of cricket fans, I too am devastated by the latest spot-fixing scandal that, if anything, only underlines the long-held belief that all is not hunky-dory with the IPL. For sure, I am not saying anything original, but the current situation begs repetition of the obvious.

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It is pointless to give a discourse on morality for that would be water off duck’s back. Greed is within all of us in varying degrees and without exception, but when it is allowed to exceed beyond limits, then it could lead to criminal activity as is the case with the spot-fixing in IPL.

While the concept of IPL cannot be questioned as the tournament is not without benefits for young Indian cricketers, it is the peripherals (which someone rightly said was like the big fat Indian wedding) that need to be looked into.

There is so much sleaze and voyeurism that other sins cannot be far behind. While the after-game parties have attained notoriety, the bevy of skimpily dressed cheer girls who get paid to be ogled at not just by the spectators but also the lecherous cameramen, and also the bunch of women in the studio who gyrate like item girls, add the “masala” ingredient that cricket can do without.

In the name of “entertainment”, the BCCI has allowed the event managers and their ilk far too much freedom with no thought to sensibilities or decorum. Same is the case with the broadcaster who has gone overboard by opting for cheap thrills and if the intention was to raise a laugh to provide some “relief” from the serious business of cricket, then such gimmicks have fallen flat.

From the outset when Lalit Modi and his henchmen plotted the IPL, the tournament was never quite able to shake off suspicions of wholesale betting (and by extension fixing) and money laundering. Questions were raised about the auctions, legitimacy of franchise owners, the lack of transparency in the financials and such, and even to this day, no satisfactory answers have been found.

Under the circumstances, the latest scandal involving Sreesanth and two other relatively unknown cricketers, Chavan and Chandila, has not come as a surprise to me. I will go so far as to say that quite a few other results not involving Rajasthan Royals also deserve a second look.

The huge form swings of some of the top teams who one day  comfortably make 170-plus, but are all out for less than 100 in another game, just do not make any cricketing sense even granting the vicissitudes of T20 format.

Sitter catches being dropped, runouts or stumpings missed, full tosses, no-balls and wides are tools of the trade of the fixers, but not always possible to differentiate the unintentional or the accidental from the deliberate.

The point is that the IPL environment, unless changed, will continue to attract the undesirables like the hyenas to a prey. Fears were expressed as far back as in 2009 when IPL was played in South Africa that the tournament and its copy-cats in Australia (Big Bash), Bangladesh and other countries facilitated corruption.

As for the ICC (that is toothless in any case) or the BCCI, they are merely administrative bodies that at best can only banish those found guilty. Their so-called anti-corruption measures are just hogwash and downright useless besides being a huge waste of money.

In 2011, three Pakistani cricketers were caught courtesy a sting operation; it took another sting operation to ferret out five Indian players indulging in match-fixing and now, it is the Delhi police who stumbled upon the three RR players. Neither the ICC’s nor BCCI’s anti-corruption units were even aware of these murky goings-on, much less unearthing them.

Thus, there are rumblings within the IPL set-up. Few franchises, if at all any, are able to break even and the costs are escalating season on season. There are rumours about non-payment of contract amounts to players, especially the domestic. Given the closed doors and windows of the IPL, one will probably never learn the truth, but there cannot be smoke without fire.

Lalit Modi said the spot-fixing scam was just a tip of the iceberg and he should know. Yet, for all that, I doubt if any drastic changes would be brought into effect in a bid to refurbish the image of IPL that has no doubt taken a beating.

BCCI chief Srinivasan has asserted that the show will go on and no surprises there considering the high stakes involved. There is far too much money in the IPL and as it is often said, money is root cause of all evils. No one quite knows, for instance, the parameters that dictate franchise fees for team ownership or, for that matter, valuations of players. If due diligence has been made to arrive at these vast sums, then the details are not made public.

In the coming days and weeks, a lot more much is bound to come out in the open, but as in the past, I doubt if the BCCI or IPL boats would be rocked, given the highly influential personalities involved, though like any true cricket fan, one would wish that the Augean Stables will be finally cleansed.

While the guilty are lambasted and BCCI is hauled over coals, spare a thought to the paying public. They have been made fools of and cheated, but does anyone care?

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