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Wrong 'un by the BCCI

The $50,000 fine imposed on Shane Warne has set a difficult benchmark for future offences, says Ian Chappell.

india Updated: May 22, 2011 01:03 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Hindustan Times

So, what level of punishment does the BCCI envision for a serious cricketing crime?

For instance, what would the use of performance-enhancing drugs or physical violence on the field bring by way of punishment?

A mere life imprisonment perhaps? Or, maybe, a leisurely month-long inquisition at Abu Ghraib? Or, if really drastic measures were called for, would they consider dusting off the guillotine?

A $50,000 fine for Shane Warne speaking his mind, does seem a bit on the high side.

Too hefty a fine
There's no doubt Warne can pay the fine, so the problem is not with him having to part with fifty grand; although he'd probably prefer to drop it at the nearest casino where he'd at least have a chance of a win. The dilemma for the officials will occur when a serious offence is committed in the future by a young player who is not highly paid.

Because the IPL is a lot like India itself - there are the haves and the have-nots - it's difficult to mete out even-handed fines. When player contracts vary between $2 million and 20,000 a year, it's difficult for the commissioners to treat each offence equally. I guess this is where a stiff suspension rather than a fine becomes the ally of the officials.

The only option
Sure, Warne could have kept his conversation with Mr Dixit private. That way, it should have remained a matter for the two people concerned to resolve. However, my experience tells me that in such cases, involving a high-profile player and a backroom boy, the latter likes to flex his muscles and have his 15 minutes of fame.

There's also the not-so-minor matter of Warne playing his last competitive match. The public was not going to be thrilled if Warne wasn't available to match wits with Tendulkar one last time. It could have ruined a potential monster gate.

So, the officials knew it would be a mistake to suspend Warne for his transgression and that left them with only one option - a fine.

Officials vs players
Sporting officials have this distinct distaste for personal criticism from players, never mind a public haranguing. The problem the BCCI has created is one of precedence. The next time a serious offence is committed, it's Warne's fine on which the punishment will be judged. A devil's advocate might say Warne's fine, being so steep, will deter potential future offenders. That's not the way it works.

If the death penalty doesn't deter potential murderers, I don't think a steep fine will make a highly competitive cricketer think twice before he speaks or acts.

Take Gautam Gambhir for example. He's shown himself to be vulnerable to the odd bout of anger but as the highest paid player in this year's IPL, he'll be able to afford a steep fine if he transgresses.

Heaven knows there are a number of players in the IPL who are not worth the lucrative contracts and they should have to return some of their earnings. However, Warne is not one of those players and in his case the punishment didn't fit the crime.

First Published: May 21, 2011 23:53 IST