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Psychologist Shiv Visvanathan explains his journey as a cricket fan in Deccan Chronicle and says the game has become highly politicised in recent times, with money gaining far too much say. He is also unimpressed with the silence of reputed voices in the wake of the IPL scandal and the media's part in going along with the charade.
Yet, cricket was changing. It was becoming corporate. Many a politician from Modi, Jaitley, Pawar saw in cricket a parallel politics, with cricket coffers surfeit with currency. Money and power were temptations and when cricket became an extension of matka and the betting industry, I realised the tail was controlling the dog. Sadly media betrayed it. True there were the Tehelka investigations and yet one realised that the Shastris, the Boria Majumdars, the Harsha Bhogles were adding smartness without reflexivity.
One just had to read Sachin Tendulkar's autobiography, to comprehend the inanity of the new cricketing mind. One also discovered that greats like Kumble, Dravid, Dhoni, were merely overpaid vassals of cricket-hungry corporations.
In a five-part interview with NewstalkZB, Lou Vincent details how bookies offered him an initial US$15,000 during the Indian Cricket League, how his "hero" was furious after Vincent couldn't carry out a fix as planned, and whether he thinks a life ban is a severe enough punishment.
The doubts over N Srinivasan's status in the BCCI and the investigations against his IPL franchise and son-in-law for allegations of corruption did not hinder his appointment as the ICC's first chairman after a restructure of the world governing body. Chloe Saltau, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, says the support Srinivasan has received from other ICC members does not help improve the game's image when it comes to fighting corruption.
Even if, as Srinivasan says, he is proven to have done nothing wrong, the fact that other members of the ICC endorsed him for the chairmanship hardly inspires confidence in their collective desire to stamp out corruption from the sport.
In an interview with the Week, former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar shares his views on the fixing scandal of IPL 2013 and the ongoing probe led by Justice Mukul Mudgal. Kumar stresses the need for further investigation and says the focus should be on pursuing all loose ends across different cities.
"The committee should look at the bigger picture. All investigations till now are independent silos. One module each in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi. They have to be put together. All leads related to the names in the sealed envelope should be followed."
The fans, not the players nor the arenas nor the competitions, lend cricket its magnificence. That means it is up to the fans, not the press nor the ICC nor even the police, to decide whether match-fixing matters, writes Telford Vice on www.gocricket.com. He provides the examples of Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin and fans' response to them, and says that people "get the game they deserve."
If the folks who buy their own tickets to matches or give up their own time to stare at their own televisions enjoy cricket just the way it is, who is anyone to tell them they should not bother with something crooked?
Harsha Bhogle discusses the early influences that shaped his commentary, censorship, unsavoury trysts on twitter and physical attributes in television presenting. Arun Venugopal of the Hindu has more.
You will find very few networks on cricket broadcast actually taking on matters of this sensitivity. So, for example, you won't find anyone talking about why a Pakistan player shouldn't be in the IPL. [These are] very sensitive matters that you have got to be careful not to inflame. In my case, I am very clear that my job here is not to be an opinion-maker, but to be a storyteller. I believe I am an opinion-maker on Twitter, in my articles. But, I have never ever been told, 'You will not say this'. I have just been told, 'Let's not say something that might offend.' That was a long time ago. In recent times, I haven't been told that.
Harsha Bhogle, in his column for Indian Express, a long tournament like the IPL can fall prey to spot-fixing. Unfavourable sources could take advantage of an event where one match is forgot in the wake of the next. This heightens the need to be more vigilant, if the fan's support is to be safeguarded.
With power comes this responsibility and at the first whiff of impropriety, they need to come down hard. The BCCI can argue they did precisely that by banning Sreesanth and the others almost immediately but by their opposition to the Mudgal Commission they have got the public concerned. Like all organisations they must feel the pulse of the consumers, the fans, and while the public enjoy watching the IPL, as indeed I do, there is a growing feeling that the BCCI isn't trying hard enough to convince them that they are watching a fair contest everytime. And as more revelations, like those from Vincent and others that gave testimony, tumble out, the need to reach out to the public must grow even stronger.
Pradeep Magazine recalls an investigation into Indian cricketers over a similar kind of scandal that is presently cloaked over the IPL. In Hindustan Times, he highlights the efficacy of Justice Mukul Mudgal's committee by contrasting the ongoing probe with proceedings from 17 years ago when he had to depose in front of a former Chief Justice.
Even today, much wiser and aware of the dodgy ways of the world, I recoil in dismay and horror at the experience I had that day at Mumbai's Cricket Club of India. Chandrachud was not interested in knowing anything about the veracity of my encounter with the bookie. Instead, he was keener on talking in generalities and looking at the game through the prism of the romantic British elite worldview, where cricket meant fair play and high moral values! When I did make an attempt to tell him about my encounter with the bookie, he just uttered "leave it" to signal the conclusion of our meeting.
The BCCI-suggested three-man probe panel was at least two-thirds fair until the far-reaching influence of the BCCI made it obsolete. With the Supreme Court rejecting them, Suresh Menon, in Wisden India believes it is high time the proper authorities are given greater control of the investigation into alleged corruption in the IPL.
But professional investigators have to come into it too: the CBI, the police forces in Delhi, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. In another month, it will be a year since television pictures of a player with a towel tucked into his trousers shocked a nation. In all that time, the BCCI has merely stonewalled the investigation. Many wasted meetings, air fares, hotel accommodations and daily allowances later, it has nothing to show for its efforts to clean up the game. Neither the spirit nor the flesh is willing.
Sandipan Deb, in the Mint, writes that Sunil Gavaskar can only maintain his personal authority in his role as the interim BCCI chief if he resolves his own conflict-of-interest issues.
So, Gavaskar is an administrator, commentator, possibly BCCI's covert representative on TV, and agent of Indian cricketers, all at the same time. If this not conflict of interest, what is? In addition, he is an NRI based in the United Arab Emirates, where, coincidentally enough, the first phase of IPL7 is going to be played. The choice of the UAE as venue has been controversial, since India has avoided playing there for years because the region is the global headquarters of cricket betting, and IPL6 was hit by a huge betting scandal which led to the whole Supreme Court business.
Mervyn Westfield went from county cricketer to criminal after being caught up in spot-fixing while playing for Essex. He has spent time behind bars, but is now rebuilding his life by warning others of the dangers of being sucked into a murky world. He will also resume playing cricket this season, at club level in Essex, and is not feeling sorry for himself. In his first significant interview, he speaks to the BBC's Joe Wilson.
He never spent the money and didn't even carry out the spot-fix correctly, but the stark fact is he took £6,000 to deliberately bowl badly. It was a decision which eventually left him in one of Europe's most secure prisons. At Belmarsh, he learned how to live alongside murderers and exist on 10 minutes of outdoor activity a day. "Whatever punishment they gave to me, I had to take it," he said. "I did wrong and got punished for it. I've just got to accept it.''
Writing in the Hindustan Times, Kadambari Murali Wade, the former editor of Sports Illustrated India shares her experience of meeting with the Mudgal Committee that was probing the spot-fixing and corruption charges in IPL 2013.
Drawing on her experience of an investigative story published in the magazine, and her interactions with the committee, she says that mere allegations or suggestions of corruption by the committee are not likely to help the cause of Indian cricket.
The ACSU does get information from several sources, players, journalists, officials etc. They reportedly even have several players on an unofficial watchlist. However, they find it difficult to push forward because of a lack of evidence that will stand up in court. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to note that a Supreme Court-appointed committee seems to think there is enough "evidence".
Everyone knows that Indian cricket needs to be cleaned up. But it can't be done on the basis of allegations, unless they've received hard evidence, allegations by a committee of this magnitude could be even more damaging.
The BCCI's decision to impose a life-ban on Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in match-fixing, has evoked mixed emotions from players and fans alike. While many have welcomed the board's tough stance, others have been left perplexed by the fact that such a harsh punishment was handed even before the Patiala House Court's verdict was out. Nirmal Shekar, writing for the Hindu, too believes that the board might have jumped the gun in order to find a scapegoat.
A lynch-mob mentality has always come in handy for men in power in this country -- no matter whether it is politics or sport or whatever. Law may be blind, but in the BCCI's case scapegoating is done with great relish and with eyes wide open. There is absolutely no attempt here to build up a case for Sreesanth & Co. But the law should take its own course. The Board believes it is a private body ... and it cannot pronounce judgments on critically important ethical issues when cases are pending in courts of law.
The BCCI's internal probe regarding the spot-fixing scandal has raised questions about the credibility of the board and the manner in which it conducts the IPL. In his column for the Mint, Ayaz Menon says that, even as legalities and rules fall in a grey area, taking cognizance of public sentiment is an important step for the BCCI, if it has to assure the public that it stands for the benefit of the game.
Recasting the dos and don'ts for administrators, franchise owners, their friends, players, et al in the IPL is an immediate imperative. Appointing an ombudsman and a couple of independent members on the governing council would have great value too. There are just too many loose ends to make for full credibility, as has become evident over the past six years--this could be detrimental to the brand value of the IPL. Taking cognizance of public sentiment would be an even bigger step in the right direction. I am not in favour of cricket coming under the control of the government, but being open to scrutiny under the right to information (RTI) law is not necessarily a bad thing.