India news March 26, 2014

Suspend IPL pending clean-up - former BCCI chief

ESPNcricinfo staff

Shashank Manohar, the former BCCI president, has called for the IPL to be suspended "until the faith of the people in the integrity of the game is restored". Manohar - who was succeeded as president by N Srinivasan - has also called for all IPL matches to be investigated, and voiced his concern over the decision to stage part of the 2014 IPL in the UAE, which, he says, "will further tarnish the already murky waters surrounding the tournament".

"The Supreme Courts observation is that there are very, very serious allegations made in the report and unless the BCCI president steps down, no fair probe can be conducted," Manohar said in a statement. "I had said long back, when the scandal broke, that all IPL matches should be investigated. I feel that a thorough probe needs to be done by CBI as the canvas of the activities extends throughout the country.

"In view of the serious allegations, regarding betting, spot-fixing and match-fixing, the public at large has lost it's faith in IPL games.

"Considering the latest developments in the BCCI, it is my considered opinion that until the faith of the people in the integrity of the game is restored, the IPL tournament for the year 2014 should be suspended. As regards suspending IPL 2014, the board members should remind themselves that money/profits is neither the aim nor the objective of the board. The primary duty is to promote a clean game of cricket.

"Many years back, a conscious decision was taken by the BCCI to abstain from matches in the Middle East in view of certain information regarding rampant betting and match-fixing. As far as I know, that decision has not been revoked. Due to the upcoming Lok Sabha [India's lower house of Parliament] elections, the decision to shift IPL matches to the Middle East will further tarnish the already murky waters surrounding the tournament. I had already said earlier that all IPL matches should first be investigated and only then can all the erring parties be punished and the clean-up initiated. What has been lately revealed could well be the tip of the iceberg.

"Cricket is the most popular game in India and enjoys a dedicated viewership of millions. This viewership is what generates income and fuels BCCI's clout on an international level. If the faith of the public is not restored, the BCCI would be failing the public which has catapulted it to being the most influential player on the international scene."

Manohar's statements came a day after the Supreme Court of India recommended that Srinivasan quit his role as BCCI president, as the first move towards a fair investigation of the IPL corruption saga. The court had given Srinivasan two days to make his decision, before it resumes hearing the case on Thursday.

IS Bindra, another former BCCI president, also came out strongly against Srinivasan. "It is a moment of shame for us to see the game gaining such disrepute across the globe for a single man's obsession with power," Bindra wrote on his personal website. He expressed displeasure at the BCCI's "top brass" remaining silent on the scathing observations made by the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday. "What surprises me even more is the fact that there has been no murmur from the top brass in the BCCI," Bindra said. "Yes, there have been statements from the BCCI vice-presidents but they are too open-ended."

Like Manohar, Bindra, too, questioned the scheduling of IPL matches in Sharjah, a venue he described as "the hotbed of fixing" and the "epicenter of nefarious activities" in cricket. He also agreed with Manohar's suggestion that the this season of the IPL need be cancelled. "With so many doubts and questions around the tournament's integrity, the players and officials' integrity, it is better to not have the tournament this year," Bindra said.

Sharad Pawar, another former BCCI president, echoed the others' views. "The prevailing standoff has tarnished the image of Indian cricket," he said. "The BCCI's image was clean during mine and Shashank's regime. Even at the international arena, Indian cricket was well respected."

Niranjan Shah, a former BCCI secretary, said that it was for the administrators to put the game ahead of selfish interests. "This is the time for all the board members to get united for the sake of Indian cricket. It is time to try and save the face of the BCCI before more damage is done," Shah told ESPNcricinfo.

Another former secretary, who wished to remain anonymous, said regardless of the decision Srinivasan takes, it was important to ensure that the game remained clean. "It is again an opportunity for the BCCI to clean everything," he said. "Everybody knows the wrong things that have happened. They should ensure that nothing like this is repeated. A lot of fans, who are genuine cricket lovers, are suffering. It is the duty of the BCCI to see that steps are taken to ensure wrong things are not repeated."

Srinivasan is believed to be exploring his legal options before the court reconvenes on Thursday.

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