The order suspending Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) for two years by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee due to misconduct of key team officials is seen as the minimum punishment the franchises deserved in the wake of the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
The Lodha panel has barred CSK team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra for life from cricket activities linked to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Both were arrested and charged by the police for illegal betting and alleged links with bookies.
The order is the latest indictment of poor management and a lack of rigour within the BCCI and IPL top echelons to keep corrupt activities in the teams in check. While the arrest of former India paceman S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila in 2013 sparked the spot-fixing scandal, the fact that RR player Pravin Tambe could be approached by Mumbai teammate Hiken Shah to try and fix games during this year’s IPL shows the danger of fixing is still real. Tuesday’s order is unlikely to impact Meiyappan and Kundra. However, it is likely to cause an upheaval in the cash-rich Twenty20 league as the next edition will be reduced to six teams. Experts feel the reduced field may render the league financially unviable.
This leaves the cricket board with a headache. Although IPL rules provide for teams to be even terminated if top officials are found guilty of major misconduct, mere suspension has led to a tricky situation. A drastic step will be for the BCCI to impress upon CSK and RR to leave the league so that fresh teams can be inducted. Whether the suspended teams will agree to that remains to be seen.
The Lodha panel order also leaves the likes of CSK skipper MS Dhoni in limbo. Other India players like R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina are also identified with CSK so it remains to be seen if they return to the player auction early next year. With Chennai, despite being handed to a trust, being seen as his baby, it raises questions of propriety over former BCCI president N Srinivasan continuing to stay on as International Cricket Council chairman.