A day after being stunned by a television sting that has raised serious concerns of possible corruption and underhand dealings, particularly in the Indian Premier League, senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials tried to link the conduct of the players caught in the row to the now-defunct Indian Cricket League.
While the BCCI announced an inquiry and suspended five players who feature in the India TV sting, a senior board official, who watched the footage with the Indian Premier League governing council members on Tuesday, simply put down the “unacceptable conduct” of the cricketers to their past involvement in the rebel league.
“It cannot be a coincidence that four of the five players who have been caught off guard were a part of the ICL, that too in the same team,” a Board insider who was involved in all the telephonic discussions, told HT.
Instead of probing further and finding the root-cause of the malaise, the cricket board appeared to divert the issue.
“There could be a case of the players getting introduced to these guys (undercover reporters) during their ICL days. After all, you don't open up to anyone whom you have met for the first or second time.”
Barring Amit Yadav, the others suspended - TP Sudhindra, Mohnish Mishra, Shalabh Srivastava and Abhinav Bali - played for Delhi Giants in the ICL. A number of Indian cricketers were barred from playing domestic cricket for joining the league and were allowed to return to the BCCI-fold only after two years in the wilderness.
The BCCI biggies, trying to paint a rosy picture of the board, pointed to the conduct of some of the other domestic players trapped in the sting operation. “Players like Samad Fallah (Maharashtra, Rajasthan Royals), Bhargav Bhatt (Baroda, Kings XI Punjab) and Rajat Bhatia (Delhi, Kolkata Knight Riders) conducted themselves very well and have come out clean,” an insider revealed.
Pune Warriors and Deccan Chargers have released Mishra and Sudhindra respectively from their IPL squads immediately after the BCCI suspended them.
While Mishra claimed he was awarded more than R1 crore over and above the BCCI's salary cap of Rs. 30 lakh per IPL season for a domestic cricketer, Sudhindra purportedly admitted to have bowled a no-ball in a local league game in Indore for money.