Three cricketers have done something bad. That does not mean the entire IPL (Indian Premier League) is bad.”
These words of N Srinivasan, the current President of BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India) show us his frustration at being asked by reporters, time and again, if the IPL which is in its sixth season, is now finished.
In yesterday’s BCCI Press Conference held in Chennai in India, in the wake of the arrests of Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila – the three team mates from the Rajastan Royals Team – for spot fixing, Srinivasan says that BCCI will take strict action on players, if they are found guilty.
I am sure many readers will agree with me that ‘taking strict action if found guilty’ is not a new phrase to us, coming from authorities.
And neither are the phrases, ‘spot fixing’ or ‘match-fixing’ new.
Hansie Cronje and Mohd Azaruddin are just two of the many big names of excellent players whose cricketing careers got completely destroyed after courts implicated them for dishonest dealings related to match-fixing and spot fixing.
It is from the lives of those two that this Rajastan Royals trio, who are now in the dock, should have learned. Dishonesty is not the best policy. It is Honesty.
Apparently, it is too much to expect from the young and restless. Whether they did it out of greed or blackmail or coercion, or whether they did it at all, will be proved by court later. But, it looks like this behaviour is something that authorities should now begin to expect, and be prepare for.
It would be extremely utopian if not simply fool-hardy to imagine that no cheating and no scandals will occur in a tournament where the stakes are enormously high, and where money involved runs into billions of rupees.
In a country where passions run to feverish highs, when it comes to cricket, bollywood and politics – though not necessarily in that order – can we expect sanity and honesty?
I am not condoning the actions of the three who are now charged, but merely stating that the vigilance of authorities and the strictness of their actions are the priority areas. Not the behaviour of players. That is beyond the control of any board or committee.
Expecting ethical behaviour from players is getting to become more and more difficult. Many Lance Armstrongs and Ben Johnsons must be already out there, fully embedded in many sporting systems, eroding the value of sportsmanship.
In IPL, the biggest tournament in the whole world, being held in a cricket crazy nation with a billion plus population , any cash and any kind from anywhere can be very tempting.
Just to win the naming rights for the IPL series, Pepsi had bid a massive 396.8 crore rupees ( $72mn ) and won against Airtel.
Just the illegal betting industry during IPL tournaments, runs into 5000 crores rupees ($ 911mn ), according to conservative estimates.
According to ‘Brand Finance’, a firm that specialises in brand valuations, IPL’s brand value had fallen from $4.1 billion in 2010 to $3.03 billion in 2013. They gave this value before this season’s IPL, and attributed the decrease to the controversies and scandals surrounding it.
So, there could be some danger to its brand value. But, whether these three are found guilty or not, I firmly believe that there are other hundreds of honest players. I am optimistic that IPL will come out of this new scandal yet again. And rise up yet again.
Is IPL finished? No. Of course, not. Let the law deal with the three arrested. But let us all keep watching.