It hasn't come as a surprise that the Indian Premier League has been rocked by serious controversies. It was a disaster waiting to happen. It's a price the tournament is paying for the authorities not being stern enough in dealing with the code of conduct breaches.
There's a feeling amongst some match referees and umpires that the players are getting away with a mere rap for serious infringements. "Munaf Patel (of the Mumbai Indians), for instance, should have been straightaway charged with a Level II offence, when he literally forced the umpire to refer decision on Kumar Sangakkara to the third umpire. He was, however, let off with a Level I offense," said a BCCI match referee.
Interestingly, the bowler wasn't even charged with full penalty for Level I offence, which entails a maximum deduction of 50 per cent of match fee, as he was fined just 25 per cent. And when he was hauled up for a second offence soon after, he was again slapped a minimum penalty - 50 per cent of his match fee when it could have been 100 per cent as per IPL guidelines. "It was a serious breach. The umpire sort of lost control over the game after that incident," said a BCCI umpire.
Preity Zinta got away with an even more serious breach. The Kings XI co-owner, not happy with an umpire's decision that went against her team, had stormed onto the ground protesting the decision. Once inside, she argued, gesticulated and stomped back only after skipper Adam Gilchrist managed to calm her down.
"It's something unheard of. How could an owner walk onto the ground questioning the umpire's decision? How can officials be expected to conduct the match in a free and fair manner if they are put under such pressure?" asked the umpire. It's not known if any action was taken against the Kings XI co-owner.
Pune Warriors captain Sourav Ganguly too escaped censure despite publicly questioning the match officials' decision of reporting Marlon Samuels for a suspect action. "You've got to be very, very careful when you warn someone and let somebody else go. Whoever has done it, has got to be careful…we'll have to be fair to everyone," Ganguly had said.