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Will Srinivasan allow a probe against himself?

When it comes to judging corruption allegations in cricket, particularly in the sub-continent, 'no smoke without fire' has become the favoured testing method. N Ananthanarayanan writes. The Guilty

india Updated: May 16, 2012 01:34 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times

When it comes to judging corruption allegations in cricket, particularly in the sub-continent, 'no smoke without fire' has become the favoured testing method. There are two strong reasons for this: the match-fixing scandal that rocked the game in 2000 and the serious concerns raised by the Central Bureau of Investigation ripped apart pretensions that the game was insulated from shady elements. The scourge of spot-fixing then came to the fore after the News Of The World sting in 2010 led to Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir being jailed in the UK.

With every second fixing allegation being sourced to illegal bookies based in world cricket's financial hub, few think these elements do not try to target the game in the country. The Indian Premier League, since it kicked off in 2008, has never been free of whispers; close matches, incredible twists and turns, and the way teams that are seemingly down and out bounce back every time only fuel more speculation.

Serious concerns

The TV sting on domestic players, essentially fringe characters as far as the multi-million dollar IPL goes, has raised serious fears that the rot runs deep and even domestic cricket like Ranji, Deodhar Trophy, etc. are not immune. Some of the players who spoke to the undercover reporters claimed spot-fixing does happen in the IPL.

While the BCCI has promised strict action against them after an inquiry, it has conveniently swept aside the claims about the franchises' dealings. The Indian cricket board floats in money but fights shy of taking issues head on, be it reviewing India's pathetic overseas performances and taking strong remedial action or addressing all the issues raised by the sting operation.

While players face action after purportedly claiming to the TV reporters that they might agree to spot-fix, what about their claims that franchises pay in black to buy players? Why the delay in announcing an investigation into this claim? It doesn't reflect well on the senior board officials, especially with the BCCI president himself owning a franchise.

The sting throws up more disturbing issues. The players say they assumed the undercover reporters were actually player agents offering them fresh deals. Now, the way they spoke freely to 'agents' raises the big question whether middle-men are playing active, and illegal, roles in the IPL, to get fringe players into teams for hefty commissions?

The IPL, from inception, has been a financial maze. With the minimum a player can make in an IPL season being R10 lakh (paid to uncapped players with two years first-class experience), there is lot of money to be made. But the league has a history of dubious financial dealings, which erupted during the Shashi Taroor versus Lalit Modi tussle in 2009. Some of the financial investigations are yet to be completed. Thus the claims made by players that teams pay in black, and give away cars and flats to circumvent IPL salary cap rules, cannot be dismissed.

The five are now desperate to wriggle out and save their careers. But will the larger issues be swept under the carpet?

First Published: May 16, 2012 00:18 IST