Though the Indian Premier League franchises breathed a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court refused to impose a stay order on the remaining matches of the current edition following the spot-fixing scandal involving the three Rajasthan Royals players, it need not be the end of problems that stare into the face of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Hit by a series of scams and allegations of money-laundering, cricket in India has been brought down from the high pedestal of being a ‘gentleman’s game’, and has instead become synonymous with gamblers, match-fixers, underworld gangsters, honey traps and the retinue of characters who make up the great racket of betting in cricket. Now with the Sahara group, owners of Pune Warriors India, an IPL franchise that was set up in 2010, withdrawing from the IPL following inability to pay the full franchise fee for 2013, more skeletons are going to tumble out of the cash-rich league’s cupboard. With the unusual hype associated with the IPL, that’s conducted under the quasi-religious gaze of millions of cricket fans and glare of television screens, the league is nothing but a great cavalcade exercised in the promotion of brand India. While BCCI is fully aware of the depths of pockets that sponsor the team franchises, it seems to have adopted a cavalier and lackadaisical attitude towards the romping corruption that threatens to bring it all down like a castle made of sand.
Clearly, BCCI must begin by addressing the concerns which plague its own constitution. Mere confessions from the three tainted players and the arrested bookies are not going to cleanse the system that is rotting from within, and sinking under the growing weight of its own deceit and illicit despicable monetary compensations. In the wake of revelations of the involvement of the underworld in the IPL match-fixing and spot-fixing scandals, graver questions beg to be asked, particularly related to the death in mysterious circumstances of the police inspector Harish Dutt, the first complainant in the current case, which was immediately branded a ‘suicide.’ While the government mulls over new laws to check rampant gambling and betting over each ball and stroke played in the league, it is the BCCI’s duty to look into its own structural failures that make a virtue out of greed and ruthless competition and turn the individual matches into some kind of a gladiatorial blood-sport. The implications of this unchecked greed, however, takes many in its potentially lethal grip, as proved by the unfortunate and gruesome deaths of ace South African cricketer Hansie Cronje, or the great England player and Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. While the first blood has already been spilled in the current edition of IPL, the BCCI must take measures to ensure that further calamities are prevented.