Many believe the current cricket spot-fixing crisis could perhaps have been avoided if the lessons of the 2000 scandal had been learnt. Instead, what we found as the Indian domestic Twenty20 league came to an end is that the whole game is under a cloud.
A Central Bureau of Investigation report 13 years ago spoke about the danger of the underworld spreading its tentacles in the game that is passionately followed by millions in the subcontinent.
While the then cricket administration followed it up by slapping bans on players and stopping matches at non-regular overseas venues, the start of the T20 league once again threw all sorts of people into the mix and left the players, officials, and the game itself, vulnerable.
Although so many skeletons have tumbled out of the cupboard with every passing hour in police investigations over the last week, the arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan — BCCI president N Srinivasan’s son-in-law, and until he was disowned as Chennai Super Kings owners India Cements, the boss and face of the team — has come as a huge shock to everyone.
The cash-rich BCCI, from being seen only as a body that has refused to be proactive in combating the menace is now even being suspected of complicity because of its top boss.
Already police interrogation has revealed that Meiyappan had placed heavy bets and his custody has been extended until Wednesday. Checks are being conducted to ascertain whether he passed on information that resulted in spot-fixing.
Srinivasan is under pressure to resign, and although the Chennai industrialist has refused to step down, senior functionaries of the BCCI to political leaders are demanding his exit in a chorus that has only grown louder.
The official, known to express righteous indignation whenever he is cornered by critics, is clearly facing the heat. With the Board chief under the scanner, and the game reeling from a serious loss of faith, the stakes have become high, not just for Indian cricket but for the global game itself as it relies so heavily on the revenue generated in India. The future of the league too suddenly looks uncertain.
Earlier, there was a feeling that the passionate Indian cricket fan, whether at home or elsewhere in the world, would come back to supporting the game once the dust settled on any such investigation.
But this time, the ongoing probe shows the rot runs wide and deep and the disgusted cricket fan could turn his back on the game and make the players and administrators pay a price. Unlike in the past, one good win by the Indian team may not be enough to win over the cynics.