In the labyrinthine corridors of the Indian Premier League, separating fact from fiction, truth from lies and deceit and greed from National pride is an impossible task.
The day the market closed for selling and bidding of players, we were told that not picking any Pakistani player was a cricketing decision taken by the team owners. Journalists, like the Pak cricketers, were snubbed by the ubiquitous Lalit Modi with the one-liner: “We owe no explanation to anyone.”
Once Pakistan reacted as if the heavens had fallen, some of the franchises reacted strongly enough to nail the lie that keeping the neighbouring players out of the League was done on cricketing merit. In fact, the Rajasthan Royals coach called it “a sinister move” and even King Khan lent his voice in favour of those who felt a grave wrong was done.
There was an impression being created that the Indian government may have conveyed to the IPL governing council that they don't want Pak players due to security/nationalistic concerns.
Once the Home Minister, who has had his run-ins with Modi even last year when the League was shifted from India, expressed his displeasure on keeping Pakistan out of the tournament, this lie too was exposed.
The logical question to be raised then is whose decision it was to shun the Pakistani players?
Did some of the more powerful team owners, out of fear that any disruption of the tournament would cause financial losses, put pressure on the others to fall in line? Or was it the IPL governing council (sorry Modi) solely responsible for this fiasco?
The only body which can come out with the facts is the Indian Cricket Board which owns and runs the League. But they have abdicated their responsibility and are happy letting Modi, who is being called the “Amar Singh of Indian cricket” by some of the Board officials, become the face of this multi-million dollar show.
In this show, where money matters more than cricket or “National pride”, is it surprising to see Pak players sing a different tune with each passing day?
When the Pakistan Nation as one, felt slighted at the snub, the players reacted in anger and said they would never play in the League again.
But the moment they realised there was a chance to get invited, they changed their stand and are now willing to “forgive and forget”. Shahid Afridi even invoked the name of the Prophet in defence of his now being willing to play in the IPL.
First the anger and now the desire for reconciliation is obviously to do more with losses and profits to be made than with any sense of hurt to the players' dignity or to his people and Nation.
It is time, people on either side of the divide realise that IPL is all to do with greed and it is best not to get emotionally used and mix “lofty” sentiments like nationalism with this mean business, which gives money primacy over sport.