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Betting spectre looms large

Amidst all the razzmatazz surrounding the Indian Premier League (IPL), a story in one of India’s leading national daily has reminded us once again how cricket remains prone to nefarious attacks on its integrity, despite the recent purge on spot-fixing. A day before Rajasthan Royals plays its first match in this year’s edition of the IPL a story has emerged of how one of its players had been approached with an offer of money if he followed a pre-decided pattern of play. Reports suggest that the player in question did not accept the offer from his teammate at the State-level, and instead informed a senior franchise official.

The team official subsequently reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit. From the outset, IPL has been under the shadow of ever-looming controversy — be it the discrepancies in creating new team franchises favouring one camp over another, or the indiscretions of the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, and even the mud that had clearly tainted former BCCI president N Srinivasan. In 2013, three players from the Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals were arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi police for their role in the spot-fixing case. Further investigation into the matter presented a sad glimpse of how the top bosses of the cricketing tournament, including the team owners and prominent board members, as well as many of the players themselves, in the deep muck of betting, spot-fixing, cheating and other money-minting malpractices.

The matter soon reached the higher echelons on the Indian judiciary, with the Supreme Court setting up a committee to probe the matter. Recommendations by the apex court-appointed Justice Mudgal Committee report led the purge against spot fixing, besides providing key lessons for future player conduct. “One of the most important things is we need to have stricter laws that deal with issues like match-fixing, spot-fixing. And we need to have those laws in place that in the long term can act as a deterrent,” former Team India captain and present Rajasthan Royal mentor Rahul Dravid said.

Although the BCCI has decided to initiate an inquiry into the matter, the onus of reporting such crimes, unfortunately, continues to remain with the player. One hopes that players in the IPL continue to maintain high standards of integrity.
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