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HindustanTimes Tue,15 Jul 2014
What goes around comes around: Rajasthan’s royal mess
Sanjay Dixit, Hindustan Times
May 20, 2013
First Published: 00:01 IST(20/5/2013)
Last Updated: 09:29 IST(20/5/2013)

This could be the silver lining in the cloud for the entire cricket world if the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India can put in place some foolproof processes to take care of the spot-fixing menace.

I think the government too needs to shed some of its reservations and come out with some proactive measures like legalization or regulation of betting. We cannot be ostrich-like and pretend that the problem does not exist. Law is not a panacea for all ills.
Some might say that Rajasthan Royals should have their horoscope checked. But this fixing saga has come at a time when the Royals were just celebrating their biggest high since their League title win in 2008. Having interacted with them and seen them from close quarters, I empathise with skipper Rahul Dravid and their CEO Raghu Iyer, who have definitely put this outfit on a high path.

The beginning
When Rajasthan got its League title in 2008, it was a proud chapter in the state’s history. However, it owed this entirely to Lalit Modi, the then president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association, and not to any Rajasthani businessman.
The team and its management have been through so many vicissitudes, turmoil and affrays, that the latest tsunami to hit them only adds to the tally of woes they have been through. Along the way, they have had their share of glory and infamy in equal measure.

The cheapest buy
When the hastily put together consortium led by Emerging Media, a largely unknown entity, won the Jaipur franchise for the lowest price of $67 million among all franchisees, many tongues were set wagging. However, to be fair, Jaipur also had the smallest stadium capacity among all the centres on offer.
What followed was a veritable fairy tale. Royals got Shane Warne, who had just retired from international cricket, as the captain. The team did not have any big names except Graeme Smith. Shane Watson was an unknown entity and so was Sohail Tanwir.
The charismatic Warnie, through some inspired bowling and a collective performance, helped them win more than 80% of their matches, including some very improbable ones. They emerged champions of the first edition of the domestic T20 league. Warnie climbed to ever new heights of adulation and admiration and Royals added enormous value to their brand.

The fallout
The great fall-out between Lalit Modi and the BCCI happened in 2010. BCCI got after Lalit with a vengeance. The abiding mystery of the league has been that though the BCCI always claimed that the league was only one of its sub-committees, with merely recommendatory powers, it accused Modi of every possible wrongdoing, which should logically have been fastened to the office bearers and the members of the working committee as well. Not many people know that in BCCI all cheques are drawn under the single signature of its treasurer.

Royals affected
The reverberations were immediate for the Royals. Since one of the owners was a relative of Modi, and Jaipur was also his cricketing home, Royals was widely perceived to be Modi’s own franchise. BCCI got after the franchise and terminated it in 2010. A long legal battle ensued, not only with BCCI but also with the enforcement directorate and Reserve Bank of India. Royals were slapped with charges of FEMA violations and denied FIPB clearances.
The arbitration resulted in Royals having to reduce their salary purse in the 2011 auction as some of the money had to be set apart for pending liabilities as per court orders. In spite of this handicap, they struck gold by picking up Rahul Dravid for $500,000 and retaining Watson and Warne.

Comeback trail
In 2012, RR set out on a path of resurgence. At 7 wins and 7 losses, they were within striking distance of a play-off position, but lost their last two matches. However, they were a revelation in 2013. Consistently punching above their weight, they made it to the play-off with two matches to go till the latest storm of spot-fixing hit them.

The writer is former Rajasthan Cricket Association president


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