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November 19, 2013
'We are all custodians of the game'
Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain, has described the leadership of cricket as "weak and self-interested" and called on the game's administrators to do more to stamp out corruption. Delivering the keynote address at the ESPNcricinfo at 20 event in Brisbane on Tuesday night, Chappell said cricket had for some time been "a runaway train with no one at the lead", particularly in regard to scheduling between the three formats.
He described India's cricket administration as arrogant, but was equally critical of the other major nations for their failure to stand up to the BCCI on various issues. And while Chappell said an overcrowded schedule and disparity between the quality of Test teams were major issues for the game's administrators, he said corruption was clearly the most pressing problem in the sport.
"What has bothered me particularly in recent times has been this seeming obsession with the bottom line," Chappell said. "Most cricket administration decisions seem to be made purely with the bottom line in mind. I would like cricket administrators to get back to where priority number one, and easily priority number one, is the best interests of the game.
"I think now the most important issue for cricket administration is corruption. I can't think of anything other than corruption that can bring this game down. Players have got to become whistle-blowers, and they've got to be educated how important this is. You cannot tell me that if you're in a dressing room and there's some funny stuff going on, surely to Christ you're going to know.
"I think if you look at the history of people who have been pinged with corruption charges, not much of it has come from cricket. Not much of it has come from the anti-corruption unit. Most of it has come from television stings, newspaper stings."
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Chappell called for a zero-tolerance approach to fixing from the game's administrators, including bans for players suspected of corruption, regardless of whether such suspicions would hold up in court. Although he echoed Rahul Dravid's recent comments that making jail time would be the most effective deterrent to players tempted into corruption, he said cricket-based punishments were just as important.
"I think if cricket is going to rely on prosecuting these guys in court, you're going to catch about one every hundred years. It's damn near impossible," he said. "Cricket has to have a cricket punishment, which is obviously leaving guys out of the team if they think they're dodgy, and I know that can be fraught with danger, but this is not a Marquess of Queensberry game. They're not going to play by the rules, and I don't think cricket can afford to.
"If you look at what cricket has done, the only convictions cricket has got seem to me to be very, very soft targets. I don't think that all the people, all the players, mixed up in this are all soft targets."
Chappell said the only way for the game to deal with corruption and its other problems was through strong, impartial leadership at ICC level and through the national boards. But he believed the game's administrators had shown themselves to be too weak and self-interested to look beyond the bottom line of profit.
"The game needs strong leadership, both on and off the field," he said. "It's quite fashionable in recent times to blame India for arrogance in their administration, and I would have to say that I agree with those feelings. But equally, I feel that the rest of the countries, particularly the major nations, are equally to blame, because none of them have stood up to India, and if you're not going to stand up to India, then I don't think you can criticise India for the way they are administering the game.
"I think what the game needs is some strong and impartial leadership, and at the moment I think what it's getting is weak and self-interested leadership. Is it a game or is it a business? It needs a happy balance. It needs to take the middle ground somewhere."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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