Thanks to some commanding performances, India have firmly entrenched themselves as favourites to win the Champions Trophy. While the seam bowling has been a pleasant surprise, it’s India’s powerful batting line-up that has made them the envy of everyone.
That India could regenerate so quickly, a batting line-up that was in danger of being decimated, is a tribute to their production line.
This has also succeeded in invalidating Australian excuses for their current batting woes. Those arguments range from the sudden departure of senior players to being the result of playing too much T20.
The latter reason is exposed as dubious because India is the home of the richest and most concentrated T20 competition. But therein lies a potential conflict if India do win the Champions Trophy. Will the tide of euphoria in the country sweep aside the corruption scandal or will it mean the rampant fixing problems are attacked with renewed vigour?
Before coming to a conclusion, it’s instructive to examine the incongruities currently in play regarding discipline in cricket.
There’s been a spate of strong punishment meted out to players who have transgressed on or off the field. These include New Zealand’s Jesse Ryder and Australia’s David Warner for drink related incidents and West Indies ’keeper Denesh Ramdin for poor sportsmanship.
I have no problem with strong punishment being administered to players. However, I do take issue with the inequities in the approach to disciplining offending players and administrators. If the administrators (who generally hand out the punishment) were subjected to the same standards as players when it comes to misbehaviour, then maybe some of the off-field incompetence could be eradicated.
In addition to multiple misjudgments, many administrators seem to totally disregard conflict of interest. And via the Indian T20 league, it’s also obvious that corruption is an issue among officials.
While the Indian league was a visionary concept, its original implementation was flawed. Its blueprint could easily have been lifted from a best-selling novel with a central theme of corruption. The fact that no one challenged this concept is symptomatic of the myopic vision in cricket administration worldwide.
Their failure to apply a zero tolerance when fixing first raised its head was a major misjudgement. And with the rest of the world standing by and allowing India to rule, it makes the other countries accomplices in the chaos.
It’s unreasonable to expect players to behave impeccably whilst they’re being exposed to some officials acting corruptly at worst and with a lack of commonsense at best. When players are surrounded by administrators whose sole priority appears to be “a strong bottom line”, it’s a bit rich to then accuse cricketers of being “self-centred”.
History suggests the investigation into the league’s corruption scandal is most likely to be swept away on a tidal wave of euphoria if India win the Champions Trophy. By reversing that trend, the officials would be displaying the courage and foresight the game has been lacking. It would also be a much-needed boost for the integrity of the game.