The ban on five players on charges of match fixing, ranging from life to one year, is the Indian Board's swift and justified response to growing allegations of corruption in Indian cricket.
All of them are hardly known outside the domestic cricket boundaries and no one will either miss or mourn their loss. A just retribution for their evil designs is all a fan would say and get on with his life. And herein lies the problem. The Board, itself reeling under various charges of wrongdoing, especially after the IPL came into existence, has not addressed the other issues raised by the sting operation on the players. Did the internal probe that has indicted these cricketers investigate the angle of black money, which some players caught in the television sting claimed was being used by the franchises to pay the salaries of players? No one knows, as the report has not been made public, a classic ploy of those who guard their fortress with iron walls so that they remain unaccountable to public scrutiny.
Also, is the malaise of fixing limited to these five cricketers alone? Or has the reach of bookies and money bags spread so wide that it may shame and embarrass the entire Indian establishment one day, just as it did in 2000 when five major stars of the Indian team were found guilty of throwing matches for a price?
Did the investigator have the mandate and the powers to go into the reasons behind this greed that seems to be engulfing our cricketing establishment, of which the conduct of the IPL is a manifestation? The answers to these questions have to be in the negative, simply because an internal probe can't question its own people. Even if it wanted to, will the Board and the all-powerful franchises allow that to happen? My guess is as good as yours.
So, instead of touting this ban as a major step in curbing corruption and hailing the board for having done what is expected of it, we should demand an independent investigation into the functioning of the Board; what happens to the millions it distributes to its various state units and the role of middlemen, agents and their links to the officials and even some players.
It was the initiative of the Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in 2000 in handing over the match-fixing probe to the CBI that exposed the under-belly of Indian cricket.
Today, we are told that Enforcement Directorate and various other agencies are probing money laundering allegations in the IPL, though we know nothing about the outcome. Will it be too much to expect the Sports Minister to emulate his predecessor's action a decade back, by handing over the probe to a credible independent agency? Cricket is too big a sport in India to be left in the hands of those who are milking it for their own profit.