IPL verdict: Board, IPL fraternity play the role of mute spectators
As the Justice RM Lodha committee peeled off the last strip of defence put up by the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises on Tuesday and made damning observations about their key team officials for illegal betting and over bookie links, what stood out was the silence of the Indian Premier League (IPL) fraternity.cricket Updated: Jul 14, 2015 22:46 IST
As the Justice RM Lodha committee peeled off the last strip of defence put up by the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises on Tuesday and made damning observations about their key team officials for illegal betting and over bookie links, what stood out was the silence of the Indian Premier League (IPL) fraternity.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India was seen as not being pro-active when the spot-fixing scandal erupted after the May 16 arrest of three Rajasthan Royals players, including former India paceman, S Sreesanth. With Gurunath Meiyappan of CSK and RR co-owner Raj Kundra too found having placed illegal bets on league matches and been in touch with shady bookie contacts, their teams were at pains to distance themselves. The priority was to ensure it did not affect the team with huge financial interests involved.
The case progressed only after the Supreme Court acted on a petition by Aditya Verma, secretary of the unaffiliated Cricket Association of Bihar. With the board president, N Srinivasan, as CSK owner, himself trying to wriggle out of conflict of interest charges, one could not expect any assuring statement from the administration.
On Tuesday, while the board president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, acknowledged the order and made a pledge to usher in transparency in the BCCI administration, there was hardly a mention about the wrongdoings of Meiyappan and Kundra that had led to the suspensions of the franchises they represented. (This amidst questions whether board secretary, Anurag Thakur’s announcement on Monday suspending Mumbai batsman Hiken Shah for the bid to tap Rajasthan Royals’ Pravin Tambe to fix IPL matches was timed to show the BCCI was proactive in fighting corruption.)
It was business as usual with the BCCI, the discussions quickly turning into how the league could be salvaged as a six-team tournament will not be financially viable and will also not meet the terms of agreements with the main sponsor and the broadcaster.
It was no different with the six other franchises, who are known to be proactive when it comes to projecting development work or non-controversial team news. The indifference of senior Indian cricket officials is often considered arrogance as they are feel nothing will really impact the cash cow. A strong statement from other team owners and the BCCI on the punishment meted out to two teams after elaborate investigations would have signalled the determination for the league to stay clean. No such message came out.
This was particularly important because of the questions being asked, but not answered, about the circuitous ownership pattern in the league with varied interests merging on the lucrative altar of cricket. The opaque ownership pattern and serious financial issues have already led to the termination of the Kochi Tuskers as well as the Hyderabad franchise changing hands.
The IPL spot-fixing case is far from over. The Lodha committee is yet to deliver its order on the league COO, Sundar Raman and reforms in the BCCI. The Supreme Court has not made public the names of players mentioned in a sealed envelope submitted by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee with its report. With players from the suspended teams expected to seek new bases, it will be important to establish that none of them are tainted.