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Putting cricket in a terrible spot

Putting cricket in a terrible spot
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the Indian Premier League is more about the money, glamour and bling associated with cricket than it is about the spirit of the sport itself. And that for a cricketer of uncertain talent like Sreesanth, being part of an IPL franchise is equivalent to the high point of his career, particularly with the massive amount of money that is poured in on most of these ‘star players.’ Hence, the latest exposé casting the Rajasthan Royal players, S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, in the spot-fixing scandal doesn’t come as a huge surprise, for betting has always been part of the seedy underbelly of the cricketing racket, particularly with the infusion of Bollywood razzle-dazzle and big bad corporate money from the likes of Vijay Mallya, and other such ‘kings of good times.’ But when the discussion turns to whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India fixes games outside the field, whether the rot of corruption infects the players on the field, and whether certain outcomes are predetermined so that the multi-billion dollar business of cricket in India continues unabated, we do need to draw a line. It is unfortunate that small fries like Sreesanth, bit players in the big scheme of things, get caught accepting puny amounts of money for dancing to the diktats of their franchise bosses, or their rivals, but the real culprits go scot-free and carry on without a whimper. Of course, the latest spot-fixing scandal hints at a deeper malice, and is certainly not restricted to just three bit players, when corruption and cricket have now become words that convey similar unbridled pots of money and bewitched enchantment for the nation at large.

Although some argue that IPL, being a private affair wherein franchises and clubs play against each other, and not national cricketing teams, the latest scandal should not affect the pride and egos of rising India. However, that is a partially flawed sentiment, for despite IPL’s being a tournament in which corporate giants run the show, with Bollywood beauties and superstars putting their extra-filmic careers at stake, the league has an Indian tag, particularly one of exuberant economic growth and GDP-driven rising graphs. But when politicians, bureaucrats and corporate bosses are routinely caught accepting and giving bribes and kickbacks to get major deals signed, such as in defence, telecom, coal and mining sectors, why should cricket be singled out for excessive moral castigation? Is it because Indians are tired of demanding a corruption-free politics, and instead want to project their hopes and dreams of an untainted national pastime on to cricket? Is it really that simple that busting one player-bookie nexus would lead to cleansing of the whole system? When Pakistani cricketers were caught in a similar scandal in the last year’s series, Indians collectively pointed their fingers at a soiled Pakistani spirit, almost considering it to be an extension of their other assaults. But now that Indian players themselves are in the spot, time is right to fix the fixes.
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