As the story of spot fixing gets deeper and dirtier, I remind myself of the seemingly untouched early 1990s — the era when mobile phones hadn't yet become indispensable, and honey traps considered a bit too improper.
Those were the days when the business of betting was made to look unintended. Like when the Indian team travelled overseas, lavish dinner parties would be hosted by rich and famous Indians in that country.
Most of our young players would crave Indian food, and that's when these expatriates would come to their rescue. Most such dinners ended with players getting a parting gift.
Such exchanges were the beginning of a brow-raising friendship between these rich expats and a few established India cricketers. In cricketing parlance, these contacts were referred to as 'maamus' (maternal uncle) who'd take care of the players' needs during their visit. Almost all top players had such 'uncles' in almost every city that hosted cricket around the world.
The new age Indian cricketer is not only moving with the world but also is rich enough to not take such favours. No wonder that such informal dinner invitations have been on the wane.
While some wise ones keep away, there are a few who like to play with fire. With the coming of the ICL, followed closely by the current league, the lesser-known players of Ranji Trophy tasted stardom.
But I've seen many young and talented cricketers losing perspective after just a season under the arc lights. They earned big bucks in the first season and spent every penny soon after the season got over.
While the BCCI tried hard to control the uncapped players' aspirations, the franchise owners refused to play ball. They weren't shy of offering a little more than the ceiling set.
The writer is a former India opener.