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Restoring IPL’s pride

C L R James, one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century, was devoted to the game of cricket. In his beyond a boundary he recollects a lifetime spent playing, watching and writing about the sport, the story of his overriding passion. The book is a tour de force exploring the game’s psychology and aesthetics, and the issues of class, race and politics that surround it.Part memoir  and partly defence of cricket as an art form, part indictment of colonialism, Beyond a Boundary addresses not just a sport but a whole culture and asks the fundamental question, ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?

In a country where everyone seems to know about cricket no one seems to know, how to fix the growing corruption scandal surrounding the twenty twenty game and indeed BCCI. For two months in the blistering summer heat of India, the Indian Premier League is watched more than anything else on Indian television. Test cricket is played between nations over five days, without guarantee of a winner. I.P.L. matches last three hours and are played between Indian teams owned by businessmen and glitzy movie stars. Results are guaranteed.There have been unforgettable moments. Five years ago, one player slapped another as they left the field. The slapped player was arrested in May and accused of fixing I.P.L. matches. Also arrested was the son-in-law of the cricket board president, Gurunath Meiyappan,who owns a team, on suspicion of gambling on matches. A few days ago, the chicken came home to roost when the RM Lodha committe banned Kundra and Meiyappan from all cricket related activities for life. 

Today the BCCI met to review the aftermath. Indian Premier League’s Governing Council (GC), on Sunday, decided to appoint a six-member working group to look into the Lodha Committee report and chart the road-map for the T20 tournament. The working group will be headed by IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla and will be bound by a six-week time frame to report their observations to the IPL Governing council.Shukla had made it clear that there would be no final decision in today’s Governing Council meeting and that the committee would take time to protect the interests of various stakeholders before deciding on the future of beleaguered franchises Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR).Star-studded CSK, two-time IPL champions, and inaugural edition winners RR were suspended from the T20 League for two years by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel as penalty for betting activities of their key officials, Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra during the 2013 season.Since the decision, there have been wide-ranged speculation surrounding the future of the tournament and the two-teams in particular. 

While Shukla ruled out the possibility of a six-team tournament, one lobby strongly feels that the contracts with Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals need to be terminated with immediate effect. The Justice Lodha committee report, along with clause 11.3 in the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise contract, makes a provision for this. Meanwhile its business as usual. IPL 9 will go ahead as planned, says Rajeev Shukla.  ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?, it’s a question more relevant than any other in todays age. The IPL is representative of the worst sides of Indian capitalism and Indian society. It’s time it mended its ways.
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