Guessing game over IPL future and Dhoni, but why future isn't grim

  • Anand Sachar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 14, 2015 22:22 IST
The CSK, led by MS Dhoni, are also the most successful team in the IPL, having won the tournament in 2010 and 2011. (HT File Photo)

The Indian Premier League had turned into a rich, pompous and spoilt brat, much like the board that mothers it. It was a bubble waiting to burst. And unsurprisingly, it was laid bare on Tuesday by the Justice Lodha committee constituted by the Supreme Court.

Officials with vested motives and conflict of interests made merry while the cricket circus was in its pomp. They threw the IPL's then-chief Lalit Modi out in 2010 on the pretext misconduct, indiscipline and financial irregularities. But matters only worsened in the next couple of years.

Three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested in the 2012 edition, charges of betting and corruption were levied against Raj Kundra, the then-co-owner of the Royals, and Gurunath Meiyappan, the then-official of the Chennai Super Kings.

The misdoings of Kundra and Meiyappan were thought to have brought the game to disrepute by the SC committee. The two teams were suspended for two years and the officials banned for life.

But what were we expecting when N Srinivasan, at one point, headed the BCCI and the India Cements - that owns the Chennai Super Kings - at the same time. Little wonder then that his son-in-law, Meiyappan, took the leeway to bet on games, pass on team information to bookies, etc.

On the face of it, the suspension of the two teams does look ominous. But the genuine cricket supporter out there need not worry. For it will not be a six-team IPL. There is too much money involved for the BCCI to go ahead with reduced teams, even the sponsors and the broadcasters would not agree.

But the BCCI should not fight odds to reinstate the guilty teams. The message should be clear - corrupt teams have no business of being a part of the IPL. It is a step in the right direction, let us embrace it leaving our emotional connects locked away.

So in such a case, while it will be difficult for CSK and RR to challenge the verdict of a SC appointed committee, the IPL next year will in all likelihood see eight teams. The BCCI could either call in for new teams, ask for a complete change in ownership of the suspended sides or bring in the old franchises - Pune Warriors India and Kochi Tuskers Kerala. There have even been reports of the latter's desire to return to the fold.

One question that remains is whether the punishment could have been harsher. When the committee was constituted in January, there were talks of the teams being banned from the IPL. Would that set a better example and debar officials of any other teams from indulging in such wrongdoings, we will not know.

While the delayed verdict on IPL COO Sundar Raman is concerning, what is equally worrying is that there was no word on the names of the players mentioned in a sealed envelope submitted to the SC earlier. Who are the players and what wrong have they done? For if they are indeed guilty, the rot could deepen for as long as they are a part of the IPL,

Another glaring question is what happens to the players of the two suspended teams. There are big names involved with CSK and RR. India's ODI and T20 captain MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Australia's Steve Smith, Shane Watson and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. Will the next two IPL seasons be played out without their presence?

Dhoni in particular had been the face of the Super Kings since the IPL's inception. He has even won the team the title twice. But it is unlikely that the captain of the side would have had no inkling of the misdoings an important official of his side was up to, isn't it? If he did and did not report, does he need to sit out for a couple of years as well? And if Dhoni was unaware of all the muck around him, he will still have a tainted image of a man who led the team that was suspended on the charges of corruption.

Having given up the Test format, Dhoni does not hold the same power he did last year this time. This verdict could shake his standing further. How the BCCI handles the Dhoni situation is critical because he is set to lead India in the upcoming World T20 and intends to play on. It could throw the national team in a state of chaos.

It is almost certain that the players of the two teams will be re-auctioned or handed over to other teams but if the BCCI decides to go ahead with the IPL without those players for the next two years, it will hardly affect the players.

Most of the players in the two teams are already millionaries, having earned their money by playing in the IPL and other such leagues. Two years without the IPL will not turn them bankrupt.

The current situation may look messy to the fans and like a setback to the BCCI but it is only a step in the right direction. The corrupt need to be booted out, only then can the game survive. And for all we know, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. At least by the time IPL 2016 is upon us, we could have an edition cleaner than the previous ones.

Read More

CSK, RR suspended from IPL for 2 yrs; life ban on Kundra, Meiyappan

Time up: Srinivasan as ICC chief untenable after IPL verdict

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