The domestic T20 league, now mired in controversy of hitherto unimaginable scale, appears to exist neatly between two parallel universes — though it has been nine days since the spot-fixing scandal shook up Indian cricket, the broadcasters and commentators are playing oblivious to the serious nature of the incident.
Since three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested in a mid-night coup on May 16, Set Max, the broadcasting partner of the BCCI, has conveniently ignored the spot-fixing scam. And one cannot blame them, as they are only following cricket board’s diktat.
Around 20 commentators were roped in for the T20 league, most handpicked by the BCCI. The terms are simple: Not to voice anything against the BCCI or its way of functioning, like the DRS. Any slip of the tongue could jeopardise a commentator’s future as a TV pundit.
Cases in the point are Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, the oldest and most well-known voices of Indian cricket, but who have seldom gone against the board. They have been asked by the BCCI to commentate on almost every series India plays at home or abroad. Amidst the fixing saga, Shastri continues to scream ceaselessly at the toss, while Navjot Singh Sidhu and Ajay Jadeja are doing the ‘jumping japang’ dance in the studio, oblivious to the rumblings outside.
Earlier this year, one of the respected voices in world cricket, former Australian skipper Ian Chappell, refused to come on board for the India-Australia Test series after he was told to toe the BCCI line. Chappell refused, but many, as seen during the T20 league, choose to go the BCCI’s way.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, once known for his forthright analysis, has also shied away from airing his views about the controversy while commentating on the game. But he has been a rare and refreshing voice to at least come out on Twitter and speak.
On Saturday, while admitting that to voice ‘other issues’ there is another platform, he tweeted: “The arrest of Gurunath (Meyiappan) on betting allegations is far bigger blow to league’s credibility than some players getting caught in spot fixing. Sad to see it image suffer another blow. Tough steps. Need of the hour.”
While Manjrekar and Harsha Bhogle have voiced their opinion on public, the rest like Gavaskar and Shastri have chosen not to do so. By doing so, they have clearly fallen prey to tactics of BCCI, which has ruled with a golden fist and has rejected any notion of good governance and free speech.