That the Indian cricket board shows alacrity selectively has again been proved. On a day when the players it punished, on the basis of a police spot-fixing probe, were cleared by a city court, the BCCI was prompt in issuing a statement that its ban won’t be affected by the verdict. This, despite the Andhra Pradesh High Court having dismissed a similar argument by the BCCI in 2012 while striking down the life ban on former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.
The BCCI has been an organisation that acts rapidly against players but is so reluctant when it involves officials. It took barely a week after the police arrested the three Rajasthan Royals players over spot-fixing to name its own investigation commissioner, and banned S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan for life.
In the year 2000 too, when the match-fixing scandal erupted, the BCCI bosses of the day instituted an internal probe following the damning Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, and banned four players. Courts struck down the bans on three players.
Contrast the Board’s alertness on player punishments with how it deals with officials. When Chennai Super Kings’ Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals’ Raj Kundra were arrested for betting and bookie links, it formed a two-member committee of retired judges which hurriedly gave a clean chit.
While the Board was pro-active and its anti-corruption head Ravi Sawani met Delhi Police officials following the player arrests, the shortlived Board panel instead wanted the police to depose before it while probing the officials. That demand was dismissed, and so was the case.
Despite the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee suspending CSK and RR and banning Kundra and Meiyappan for life, the Board is reluctant to act. A panel (working group) has been formed to report to another (IPL governing council), which in turn will report to another (working committee) before the Board decides what to do!
The double standards are most glaring in the case of IPL COO Sundar Raman. The SC-appointed Justice Mudgal panel found that he had called the contact of a bookie eight times in a season. The Lodha Committee has said it needs to probe his case deeper. But Raman continues to run IPL and Board secretary Anurag Thakur has rejected any need for him to step aside till he gets a clean chit.
Maybe, the time has come to hold officials directly responsible for the conduct of players, like coaches being hauled up in doping cases.
Fifteen years ago, the CBI slammed the Board for never acting when reports and rumours about match-fixing emerged, calling it negligent. Going into a huddle when officials are involved instead of taking action only makes it worse.