It's come out into the open now but the practice of agents luring players is an open secret. The Indian Premier League has only turned it into a flourishing business. The five players caught in a sting operation were also trapped by media men posing as agents. Is it something the Indian cricket board could have avoided?
Indian legend, Anil Kumble, seemed to have the vision when he made a presentation to the BCCI top brass, to focus on the behavioural competence of the players too apart from their cricketing skills. However, he quoted a mind-boggling sum on behalf of a company which he insisted should get the contract. The proposal naturally didn't get the Board's approval.
With so much money to be made in the IPL, more than the stars, it’s the local players who are susceptible to all kinds of influences. Desperate for a break in the T20 tournament, they are ready to try out anything. When an agent promises to get him a contract, the player is tempted to give it a try.
But there is no regulation for these so-called agents and that means anyone can pose as one. In the BCCI’s books, they don’t exist and are not registered. One has to pin hopes on the honesty of the players and the persons they are dealing with. And that's leaving a lot to chance.
The Board is against granting official status to the agents by registering them. The problem in India is there’s no players’ association that can step in to protect the cricketers' interests, like in Australia and England.
Retired IG and sports psychologist BP Bam says the most effective way to help young players understand the difference between right and wrong is to be strict with them. “You can't teach moral strength. An individual has to decide what’s right or wrong. It’s about staying true to your character and word. The officials can only ensure a fair selection and you can have a manager to handle your finances,” says Bam, who has worked with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. He is for taking strict action on the players trapped by the TV sting.
“To keep the players, for that matter anyone, in check, it is important to take very strict action on discipline issues from a young age. If they start getting away lightly, they go astray.”
The BCCI says there’s a limit to what they can do. “You can't blame the system. Everything is done to educate the players. Every player in the IPL has to attend the briefing of the anti-corruption unit where he is educated about the dos and don'ts, to avoid corrupt practices and traps. When he is caught, he is punished. There were players who stayed firm in this sting too while the others succumbed to the temptation. Ultimately, it’s up to the player to make the right decision,” a senior Board functionary told HT.