June 1, 2013

The serpent in the garden

The IPL is representative of the worst sides of Indian capitalism and Indian society
83

I detest wearing a tie, and do so only when forced. One such occasion was a formal dinner at All Souls College, Oxford, where opposite me was an Israeli scholar who had just got a job at the University, and was extremely anxious to show how well he knew its ways and mores. He dropped some names, and spoke of his familiarity with the manuscripts collection at "Bodley" (the Bodleian Library). In between his boasts he kept scrutinising my tie. Then, when he could contain his curiosity no more, he walked across the table, took my tie in his hand, looked at it ever more closely, and asked: "Is this Magdalene?"

I did not answer. How could I? For the tie signalled not membership of a great old Oxford College, but of a rather more obscure institution, the Friends Union Cricket Club in Bangalore. I joined the club in 1963, aged five, because my uncle, a legendary one-handed cricketer named N Duraiswamy, played for it. I would go along with him for practice, stand by the side of the net, and at the end of the day be allowed to bowl a few balls from 12 yards or thereabouts. By the time I was ten I was helping lay the mat and nail it to the ground. When I reached my teens I was bowling from where everyone else did.

As a boy and young man, I was an episodic member of the Friends Union Cricket Club. In those years I was based in North India, and came south for my summer and winter holidays. In 1994 I moved to Bangalore for good. In the past two decades, I have watched FUCC win the First Division Championship three times, and seen a series of young players graduate from club cricket to representing the state in the Ranji Trophy. My club has produced two India internationals and at least 15 Karnataka players, all of whom I have known personally and/or watched play.

Largely because of Duraiswami - who has been captain or manager for 40 years now - FUCC enjoys a reputation that is high both in cricketing and ethical terms. No cricketer of the club has ever tried to use influence to gain state selection. Where other clubs sometimes adjust games to make sure they do not get relegated, FUCC does not resort to this. FUCC cricketers do not come late for practice, and never abuse the umpire. And they play some terrific cricket too.

FUCC was one of a dozen clubs that provided the spine of Karnataka cricket. The others included Jawahars, Crescents, BUCC, Swastic, Bangalore Cricketers, and City Cricketers. The men who ran those clubs were likewise personally honest as well as fantastically knowledgeable about the game. The cricketers they produced won Karnataka six Ranji Trophy titles, and won India many Tests and one-day internationals too.

This year I mark the 50th anniversary of my membership of the Friends Union Cricket Club. In this time, FUCC has commanded my primary cricketing loyalty; followed by my state, Karnataka, and only then by India. Six years ago, however, a new club and a new format entered my city and my life. I was faced with a complicated decision - should I now add a fresh allegiance, to the Royal Challengers Bangalore?

I decided I would not, mostly because I disliked the promoter. In cricketing terms, Vijay Mallya was the Other of Duraiswami. He had never played cricket, nor watched much cricket either. He had no knowledge of its techniques or its history. He had come into the sport on a massive ego trip, to partake of the glamour and celebrity he saw associated with it. He would buy his way into Indian cricket. And so he did.

It was principally because Mallya was so lacking in the dedicated selflessness of the cricketing coaches and managers I knew, that I decided the RCB would not be my team. So, although I am a member of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and have free entry into its grounds, I continued to reserve that privilege for Ranji Trophy and Test matches alone.

The KSCA Stadium is named for its former president, M Chinnaswamy, who was one of Duraiswami's heroes. When I was growing up, Durai would tell me of how Chinnaswamy supervised the building of the stadium, brick by brick. This great lover of cricket abandoned his lucrative law practice for months on end, monitoring the design, the procurement of materials, and the construction, with no cost over-runs and absolutely no commissions either.

The behaviour of Messrs Lalit Modi and N Srinivasan cannot shock or surprise me, but I have been distressed at the way in which some respected cricket commmentators have become apologists for the IPL and its management

In other ways too Chinnaswamy was exemplary. Never, in all the years he served the KSCA, did he try to manipulate a single selection. Later, when he became president of the BCCI, he met the challenge of Kerry Packer by increasing the fees per Test match tenfold. It was while he ran Indian cricket that our players were for the first time treated with dignity and paid a decent wage.

I wonder what Chinnaswamy would have made of his grasping, greedy, successors as presidents of BCCI. I wonder, too, what he would have made of a man who can't pay his own employees having a free run of the stadium that Chinnaswamy so lovingly built. This past April, the Bengaluru edition of the Hindu carried a front-page story on an summons that the Special Court for Economic Offences had issued to Mallya, who owed the Income Tax Department some Rs75 crores, or about $13.3 million, which he had not paid despite repeated reminders. The police, often waiving the rules for the powerful, told the court that they were too busy to execute the summons.

But let me not single out Mallya here. The truth is that almost all the owners of IPL teams (seven out of nine, by one estimate) are being investigated by one government agency or another, in one country or another, for economic offences of one kind or another. Since this is a shady operation run by shady characters, Indian companies known for their professionalism, entrepreneurial innovation, and technical excellence have stayed away from the IPL altogether. Here is a question for those who still think the tournament is worth defending - why is it that companies like the Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted an IPL team?

To this writer, that the IPL was corrupt from top to bottom (and side to side) was clear from the start - which is why I have never exercised my right of free entry for its matches in Bengaluru. But as I watched the tournament unfold, I saw also that it was deeply divisive in a sociological sense. It was a tamasha for the rich and upwardly mobile living in the cities of southern and western India. Rural and small town India were largely left out, as were the most populous states. That Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, both of whom have excellent Ranji Trophy records, had no IPL team between them, while Maharashtra had two, was symptomatic of the tournament's identification with the powerful and the moneyed. The entire structure of the IPL was a denial of the rights of equal citizenship that a truly "national" game should promote.

The IPL is representative of the worst sides of Indian capitalism and Indian society. Corrupt and cronyist, it has also promoted chamchagiri (sycophancy) and compliance. The behaviour of Messrs Lalit Modi and N Srinivasan cannot shock or surprise me, but I have been distressed at the way in which some respected cricket commmentators have become apologists for the IPL and its management. Theirs is a betrayal that has wounded the image of cricket in India, and beyond. George Orwell once said: "A writer should never be a loyal member of a political party." Likewise, for his credibility and even his sanity, a cricket writer/commentator should keep a safe distance from those who run the game in his country.

What is to be done now? The vested interests are asking for such token measures as the legalisation of betting and the resignation of the odd official. In truth, far more radical steps are called for. The IPL should be disbanded. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, played between state sides, should be upgraded, making it the flagship Twenty20 tournament in the country. Then the clubs and state associations that have run our domestic game reasonably well for the past 80 years would be given back their authority, and the crooks and the moneybags turfed out altogether.

Even now, in every city and town in India, there are selfless cricket coaches and administrators active, nurturing young talent, supervising matches and leagues. The way to save Indian cricket is to allow these modern-day equivalents of Duraiswami and M Chinnaswamy to take charge once more.

Historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha is the author of A Corner of A Foreign Field and Wickets in the East among other books

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Mr Ramcandra Guha, your analysis on this beautiful game is so heart warming. I would request if espncricinfo can have a lecture by you on cricket on its history and its anecdotes which you so well know. (loved the tie episode). I would attend it without a doubt. Its time true cricket lovers would love to know so much from great historians and writers like you. Please its a humble request....

  • Kirk-at-Lords on June 4, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    @APal54: Regarding comparison of cricket to commerce -- whereas you appear to embrace commerce uncritically, your use of Wal-Mart as an example brings up issues that you likely did not intend, but which are becoming increasingly salient. W-M is roundly hated by some, particularly in its USA birthplace, and also overseas where it bulldozes local culture and business enterprise. Similar things could be said of IPL in its present condition. It is my hope that whatever may become of W-M and the larger issue of proper commerce, that the governance of the cricket will evolve so that IPL will not have that kind of negative influence, but instead will have a very positive and beneficial impact on the sport we all care for so much.

  • Kirk-at-Lords on June 4, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    This is the most challenging commentary yet on the alleged corruption in IPL and BCCI. This is as much due to the range of responses as Mr Guha's own words. Frankly I am torn in two between the almost romantic attraction of the "good old days" model of club cricket with inspiring leaders like Mangalam Chinnaswamy, and the current realities of commercial success and popular mania surrounding the "cricketing Bollywood" of IPL. I find myself wanting to embrace it all. I dearly love Tests, but the club context of IPL and related amazing feats that go far beyond the hitting of long sixes to include remarkable bowling and incredible fielding have also found a place in my heart. This has happened almost against my will and better judgment, but that is the nature of the cricket. It is only to some degree a logical sport, particularly when it is the "chess on grass" of Tests. There is also that indefinable aspect that must be called love. It is for that love that we need proper governance

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    "The IPL should be disbanded. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, played between state sides, should be upgraded, making it the flagship Twenty20 tournament in the country."

    The IPL is already the flagship T20 tournament in the country ( and the world). One such tournament is ENOUGH. After all, we don't want to create a culture where our bowlers are incapable of bowling beyond 4 overs in competitive cricket!

    The IPL as a tournament has managed to energise and stimulate interest in cricket in the country and world over as nothing else did - anywhere in the world. The IPL has brought money into the game, which means the money can be used for promoting the game as well as infrastructure creation, talent creation, player welfare, etc.

    Any suggestion to disband the IPL is akin to killing the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs!

  • cvrrao on June 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    I am so impressed by the suggestion of upgrading Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy to be flagship T20 trophy. I am also very upset that how come a person with loans and court cases against him, start to own a team and decide future of youngsters. Even though the money given to players is huge as compared to state associations. But still it could have been done even without involving corporate and bollywood celebrities. They are here to grab a big share of cricket advertisements. Note that cricket ad money previously spent on State Associations and BCCI, will now be diverted to IPL because the Ad budgets of corporates will not increase if a new tournament is added. Some corporates who own the team now can negotiate lower or nil rates for their own ads and thus spending less on cricket.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    "Here is a question for those who still think the tournament is worth defending - why is it that companies like the Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted an IPL team?"

    Maybe they were not inclined to spend mega bucks in cricket. Maybe they are not cut out for the glitz and glamor that IPL brings with it. Each to his own. Their non-association is no argument that IPL is bad. This is a lame argument.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    "The truth is that almost all the owners of IPL teams (seven out of nine, by one estimate) are being investigated by one government agency or another, in one country or another, for economic offences of one kind or another. Since this is a shady operation run by shady characters,..."

    If some of the owners are being investigated, how does that make the IPL a shady operation? This is clearly a flawed argument.

  • Voice.O.Reason on June 4, 2013, 2:36 GMT

    This is just elitist nonsense. Cricket is an urban sport. The IPL didn't introduce any new social divisions. Its popularity owes nothing to who are running the show. Whatever you may think about the cricket, millions of ordinary people across the country can readily name several players in each franchise; whereas most people would be hard put to even name the Ranji teams, let alone who play for them! So, just because the IPL in the news these days for the wrong reasons, is no reason to run down every single thing about it.

    To me, the IPL is a microcosm of India itself, messy, flashy, riddled with corruption, entertaining, and having potential for evolving in the only aspect that makes everything else palatable, i.e. the quality of the cricket. The writer on the other hand is laughably arguing for the tired old tworld where 60-70 percent of match tickets are handed out to state association members who don't even attend the matches...

  • jay57870 on June 4, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    Still, Guha is to be applauded for stirring up this debate. Only it needs to be balanced. His focus on the "worst sides" of IPL - crony capitalism, corruption, chamchagiri & compliance - is just one side. The counter-argument (as presented herein) must also be heard. On balance, IPL's done more good than harm. It's the league of choice for players across the world. Importantly, it's been embraced by fans all over! But to assert "The IPL should be disbanded" is too "radical"! It wouldn't be fair to the many good people who've made it successful & depend on it for their livelihoods. Yes, apart from the "selfless cricket coaches & administrators", there's (per Guha also) a "generation of gifted & selfless cricketers" - like Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Kumble & Tendulkar - who could take charge. Meanwhile, let the concerned parties - police, courts, law & sports ministries, ACSU, BCCI commission - fulfil their jobs. Satyameva Jayate! The garden snakes will be caught & destroyed, Guha!

  • jay57870 on June 4, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    Third, to assert "IPL is responsible for the worst sides of Indian capitalism and Indian society" is unnecessarily harsh. IPL's a sports-entertainment business. It's an integral part of a flourishing cricket industry. It creates employment across many sectors nationwide: the game & support activities spur a multiplier effect across the economy - franchisee locations (hotels, transport, food, etc) to sports goods manufacturing (Meerut, Jalandhar, etc). It also fosters infrastructure development & new enterprises - incl. quality facilities (Dharamsala, Raipur, Ranchi) in under-represented states. What's wrong with that? Fourth, Guha's cricketing loyalty to his FUCC is commendable. But to boast that it (on his 50th year as member) "commanded my primary cricketing loyalty; followed by my state, Karnataka, and only then by India" is like wearing his heart on his elitist sleeve (& collar)! IPL sure will be thrilled to read Guha's words. Wrong message: Never should club come before country!

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Mr Ramcandra Guha, your analysis on this beautiful game is so heart warming. I would request if espncricinfo can have a lecture by you on cricket on its history and its anecdotes which you so well know. (loved the tie episode). I would attend it without a doubt. Its time true cricket lovers would love to know so much from great historians and writers like you. Please its a humble request....

  • Kirk-at-Lords on June 4, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    @APal54: Regarding comparison of cricket to commerce -- whereas you appear to embrace commerce uncritically, your use of Wal-Mart as an example brings up issues that you likely did not intend, but which are becoming increasingly salient. W-M is roundly hated by some, particularly in its USA birthplace, and also overseas where it bulldozes local culture and business enterprise. Similar things could be said of IPL in its present condition. It is my hope that whatever may become of W-M and the larger issue of proper commerce, that the governance of the cricket will evolve so that IPL will not have that kind of negative influence, but instead will have a very positive and beneficial impact on the sport we all care for so much.

  • Kirk-at-Lords on June 4, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    This is the most challenging commentary yet on the alleged corruption in IPL and BCCI. This is as much due to the range of responses as Mr Guha's own words. Frankly I am torn in two between the almost romantic attraction of the "good old days" model of club cricket with inspiring leaders like Mangalam Chinnaswamy, and the current realities of commercial success and popular mania surrounding the "cricketing Bollywood" of IPL. I find myself wanting to embrace it all. I dearly love Tests, but the club context of IPL and related amazing feats that go far beyond the hitting of long sixes to include remarkable bowling and incredible fielding have also found a place in my heart. This has happened almost against my will and better judgment, but that is the nature of the cricket. It is only to some degree a logical sport, particularly when it is the "chess on grass" of Tests. There is also that indefinable aspect that must be called love. It is for that love that we need proper governance

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    "The IPL should be disbanded. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, played between state sides, should be upgraded, making it the flagship Twenty20 tournament in the country."

    The IPL is already the flagship T20 tournament in the country ( and the world). One such tournament is ENOUGH. After all, we don't want to create a culture where our bowlers are incapable of bowling beyond 4 overs in competitive cricket!

    The IPL as a tournament has managed to energise and stimulate interest in cricket in the country and world over as nothing else did - anywhere in the world. The IPL has brought money into the game, which means the money can be used for promoting the game as well as infrastructure creation, talent creation, player welfare, etc.

    Any suggestion to disband the IPL is akin to killing the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs!

  • cvrrao on June 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    I am so impressed by the suggestion of upgrading Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy to be flagship T20 trophy. I am also very upset that how come a person with loans and court cases against him, start to own a team and decide future of youngsters. Even though the money given to players is huge as compared to state associations. But still it could have been done even without involving corporate and bollywood celebrities. They are here to grab a big share of cricket advertisements. Note that cricket ad money previously spent on State Associations and BCCI, will now be diverted to IPL because the Ad budgets of corporates will not increase if a new tournament is added. Some corporates who own the team now can negotiate lower or nil rates for their own ads and thus spending less on cricket.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    "Here is a question for those who still think the tournament is worth defending - why is it that companies like the Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted an IPL team?"

    Maybe they were not inclined to spend mega bucks in cricket. Maybe they are not cut out for the glitz and glamor that IPL brings with it. Each to his own. Their non-association is no argument that IPL is bad. This is a lame argument.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 4, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    "The truth is that almost all the owners of IPL teams (seven out of nine, by one estimate) are being investigated by one government agency or another, in one country or another, for economic offences of one kind or another. Since this is a shady operation run by shady characters,..."

    If some of the owners are being investigated, how does that make the IPL a shady operation? This is clearly a flawed argument.

  • Voice.O.Reason on June 4, 2013, 2:36 GMT

    This is just elitist nonsense. Cricket is an urban sport. The IPL didn't introduce any new social divisions. Its popularity owes nothing to who are running the show. Whatever you may think about the cricket, millions of ordinary people across the country can readily name several players in each franchise; whereas most people would be hard put to even name the Ranji teams, let alone who play for them! So, just because the IPL in the news these days for the wrong reasons, is no reason to run down every single thing about it.

    To me, the IPL is a microcosm of India itself, messy, flashy, riddled with corruption, entertaining, and having potential for evolving in the only aspect that makes everything else palatable, i.e. the quality of the cricket. The writer on the other hand is laughably arguing for the tired old tworld where 60-70 percent of match tickets are handed out to state association members who don't even attend the matches...

  • jay57870 on June 4, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    Still, Guha is to be applauded for stirring up this debate. Only it needs to be balanced. His focus on the "worst sides" of IPL - crony capitalism, corruption, chamchagiri & compliance - is just one side. The counter-argument (as presented herein) must also be heard. On balance, IPL's done more good than harm. It's the league of choice for players across the world. Importantly, it's been embraced by fans all over! But to assert "The IPL should be disbanded" is too "radical"! It wouldn't be fair to the many good people who've made it successful & depend on it for their livelihoods. Yes, apart from the "selfless cricket coaches & administrators", there's (per Guha also) a "generation of gifted & selfless cricketers" - like Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Kumble & Tendulkar - who could take charge. Meanwhile, let the concerned parties - police, courts, law & sports ministries, ACSU, BCCI commission - fulfil their jobs. Satyameva Jayate! The garden snakes will be caught & destroyed, Guha!

  • jay57870 on June 4, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    Third, to assert "IPL is responsible for the worst sides of Indian capitalism and Indian society" is unnecessarily harsh. IPL's a sports-entertainment business. It's an integral part of a flourishing cricket industry. It creates employment across many sectors nationwide: the game & support activities spur a multiplier effect across the economy - franchisee locations (hotels, transport, food, etc) to sports goods manufacturing (Meerut, Jalandhar, etc). It also fosters infrastructure development & new enterprises - incl. quality facilities (Dharamsala, Raipur, Ranchi) in under-represented states. What's wrong with that? Fourth, Guha's cricketing loyalty to his FUCC is commendable. But to boast that it (on his 50th year as member) "commanded my primary cricketing loyalty; followed by my state, Karnataka, and only then by India" is like wearing his heart on his elitist sleeve (& collar)! IPL sure will be thrilled to read Guha's words. Wrong message: Never should club come before country!

  • jay57870 on June 4, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    Guha - Good points made in identifying IPL's "Serpentine" issues. Yes, the garden snakes need to be caught & destroyed. However, these same points lose conviction as Guha builds up his main argument to push for "IPL should be disbanded". First, to assert "IPL was corrupt from top to bottom (and side to side) was clear from the start" is questionable & irresponsible! Everybody? Broad-brushing the whole organisation is objectionable, especially insulting to the players: Just ask Dravid, Kumble & Tendulkar! Second, to assert the "entire structure of the IPL was a denial of the rights of equal citizenship that a truly 'national' game should promote" is patently untrue. If anything, IPL has created opportunities for aspiring youngsters (many poor) from all corners of the nation, incl. small towns & rural areas as well as most populous UP. Just ask S Samson (Kerala-RR), M Sharma (Haryana-CSK) & B Kumar (UP-PW): That's upward & geographic mobility to boot! It's sociologically inclusive too!

  • VenkyN on June 3, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    Another old timer pontificating on the beauty of test cricket and how the IPL is the sum total of all the evils besieging the game today. Mr. Guha, please do not exaggerate like this - evolution IS nature. My comments will be relegated to cyber oblivion for sure, but I hope that atleast a few will read it.

    Forget Mallya, what about the coaches, and the players ? And what about the citizens of the city that the franchise is based on, who have lent their identity and love to the team ? If at all, Mr. Mallya should be applauded for making that possible. I am not a huge fan of Mr. Mallya, or Sahara or India Cements or anybody else who owns a franchise, but I do not think there is anything evil in someone owning a team.

    Given the state of international cricket, with just 8 reasonable international teams, and only 6 of which can play competitive cricket, why is franchise cricket not the way to to ? The IPL has provided more competition than most international games can even dream of

  • sureshrenga on June 3, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    "why is it that companies like the Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted an IPL team?" - Mr. Guha, You need to get your facts right. Tata Consulatancy Services whose parent company is Tata Groups is one of the sponsor and Technology Partner for the now in trouble players team Rajasthan Royals. While IPL - a wonderful league which gives lot of opportunities to young players and unearths atleast couple of genuine talents every year needs a lot of support from people like you who have spent a greater part of life with the game. Disbanding IPL because of the corrupt offcials and players is much similar to burning the house because of termites. I strongly Disagree!

  • sujayag on June 2, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    mr.guha..you of all people should be aware that even in ranji tournament the states of Maharashtra and gujrat have 3 teams as opposed to UP. so let us not talk about IPL being deeply devisive in sociological sense! as for the moneymakers it is the politicians running the BCCI which is the core of the problem, to state that the IPL represents worst of indian society or for that matter indian capitalism is somewhat foul. it also shows the strength of the growing indian power. the IPL is supposed to popularize the format and does not claim that it benefits cricket as such, in right hands the amount of revenue the BCCI generats due to IPL is so enormous that it does drain down to increased salaries of even district level players. traditionally all the cricket stars like chinnaswamy came from urban regions with considerable clout (even though they did not have to chose it) but the money BCCI makes enables the infrastructure to develop in such a way that even rural participants get exposure

  • on June 2, 2013, 19:56 GMT

    Great Article. Echoes the voice & sentiments of every ethical Indian Cricket "Enthusiast" who feel cheated & let down by the recent developments in BCCI

    A "Must Read"

    I enjoyed & agree every bit

    GEERA

  • Rahul_78 on June 2, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    IPL has become a guilty pleasure of everyone associated with it. The Fans included. It is like a pack of cigarettes which comes with a graphic warning stating that it is definitely going to harm your health but still the addict cant keep away from it. IPL is not only hurting Indian cricket but world cricket big time. No need to reduce the holy game graced by the likes of Bradman, Richards and Sobers to so called TAMASHA or pre choreographed WWE circus. It is high time everyone stands up, get the stock of reality and give the bad habit that has become IPL.

  • arvind.panchal on June 2, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    I am so happy that someone wrote such a critical article about IPL. We can argue how objective the opinion is. But it says a lot. Guhaji's anecdote about wearing his club tie to a dinner at Oxford Uni. tells how club allegiances are built & maintained. And for sure money and public relation are not relevant for that. You need good foundation & people worthy of emulation at the helm.

    And I can share Guhaji's frustration when I see that people who have no understanding of Cricket and respect for the game and its traditions are now running Cricket in India.

    Evidently they are in the game only for money and they do not care if in the process cricket itself is ruined because they will not mind looking for alternatives to maximize their money.

    I am not worried if the IPL owners are corrupt -- this more or less has become an Indian way of life. I think I would be ok if there is corrupt but a real cricket loving person would run the cricket show in India, for then Cricket can evolve.

  • on June 2, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    I have a lot of respect for Guha the historian and writer, but I am afraid this article is anything but objective. Guha wants IPL to be disbanded because he thinks those who run it are corrupt. But don't those same corrupt, venal, greedy administrators and sponsors run Test cricket and one-day international cricket too? It is the same BCCI which runs his beloved Ranji Trophy and Test cricket and it is the same corrupt Sahara (probably the most corrupt of all IPL franchisees) who have been sponsoring the Indian team for years. Given that, I don't understand how he can oppose IPL on the one hand and sing praises of Test cricket on the other. As for his comment on the "deeply divisive in a sociological sense" comment, it is even more laughable. How does he account for his beloved Ranji trophy having 3 teams each from prosperous states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, while having just one from the much larger state of UP? Has this had a deeply divisive effect on India all these years?

  • raj60 on June 2, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    The only solution for cricket or for that matter any other sports organisation to become clean and professional is to get rid of the scums (politicians and businessmen) running the show. Get professionals to run the show and get sports persons to be part of the setup unlike now. Doesn't matter if a Prakash Padukone is part of cricket setup as long as a Kapil Dev is part of a setup of soccer or hockey.

  • wake_up_india on June 2, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    The greatest fault of the IPL from an Indian perspective is that it develops bad cricket habits in developing players, the habits getting get mercilessly exposed in test matches against teams that have not been brought up with IPL. It may be a blessing for India if the IPL were to self- destruct through corruption. IPL is to cricket what Bolywood is to cinema.

  • m0se on June 2, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    Yes, yes, people you know are moral, upstanding good people while others are bad and corrupt. IPL is change and change is always scary. While tearing down the IPL and wishing for things to go back to the way they were is always a comforting thought but the real effort should be placed on working out the problems and fixing them. Yes, IPL has resulted in a lot of bad things but also has resulted in a lot of good things. There are many distasteful things in IPL but as it ages and matures, effort should be put in filtering the bad stuff out and maintaining the good stuff.

  • FAnon on June 2, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    Somewhere hidden deep inside this putrid mess that the BCCI has made of Indian cricket lies its soul. Is it beyond redemption? Possibly, as its greatest men stay silent. Where is the integrity, outrage, and the desireq for redemtption or salvation demonstrated by Guha that should derive from the likes of Dravid, Tendulkar, Gavaskar, and admittedly the least most likely, Shastri. Perhaps it is foolish and naive to expect them to speak out against their owners, Perhaps the soul of Indian cricket resides where it is incorrptible in the maidans playgrounds backyards streets, thse fields of dreams where 'ordinary' Indians play for the love of the game

  • luks on June 1, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    Two comments. Ofcourse this article is so sensible, one cannot but agree. But, the part where it breaks down is money. The shady characters have the money so how does one keep them out of the action? Secondly, I like the comment about Mallya having not played. I always felt a distinction between fans who like to watch vs those who have played or are playing the game. It first dawn on me when someone asked Curtly Ambrose whether he watched today's games and he put it simply - I like to play the game, don't watch it much. Its a massive difference between the fan that likes to watch tamasha and comment on everything and the fan that is more concerned about the game, playing it and drawing out points about the game when watching it.

  • on June 1, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    while i love Mr.Guha's writing, i dont quite agree with his views here. while, i agree the IPL needs cleaning up, disbanding it altogether is not something i would agree with. i admire his love for the game but he is one of the few luckier souls that got to be in a club. arent others who love the game not count? what abt ppl who couldnt play the game or be part of a club but still love the game? those who follow the game religiously but dont have the time or talent to be part of a club? cant these ppl own clubs if they can afford it?

  • nk94555 on June 1, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    No idea what Mr. Guha is trying to say - go back to old days of 60s and 70s. While the whole word and all other sports are moving forward but he wants cricket to be played in old ways. Yes there should be no place for corruption and as long as there are politicians inside BCCI, game can't be clean. We need to fix BCCI and as I mentioned earlier IPL should be independent, free from BCCI and ICC. Let's remove the corruption out of IPL not the IPL itself. Not sure if he still listens to games on his old radio like 70s or watch it on a 70 inch high def.

  • crindo77 on June 1, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    Won't find too many comments for this article, rest assured. Unpalatable truth is oft ignored. IPL is a reflection of the way India has moved in the last 10 years. Rampant abuse of the trust of a naive population. Cricket is the biggest casualty here , as its not the first time the Indian people have been made fools of, and unlikely to be the last.

  • ThatsJustCricket on June 1, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    @Ackq : don't think you got that right. TCS became the technology partner for RR in 2009, not a sponsor or promoter of the franchise.

  • ARad on June 1, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    @prashnotz: you wrote: "is a country which produces about 80% of cricketing revenue and accounts for that much of the fanbase which follows cricket, still has got just 1 vote in the ICC. Is that equality?" Based on such a logic, do you think a wealthy Indian businessman should be able to vote many more times than an average Indian in the Lok Sabha elections?

  • ARad on June 1, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    I wish Guha had stated his opinions without the following: "Since this is a shady operation run by shady characters, Indian companies known for their professionalism, entrepreneurial innovation, and technical excellence have stayed away from the IPL altogether... why is it that companies like the Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted an IPL team?" I advise him and others to google each of these company's names followed by the word 'scandal' to see if they are really spotless. Admiration of a company (or a player or a team or even a nation) should not be the reason to assume virtue. Also, I have been writing comments here in cricinfo since the IPL began to that IPL does not belong to Indians in general but it is a business venture so thanks for highlighting this point that seems to escape many readers. I also like this: "for his credibility and even his sanity, a cricket WRITER/COMMENTATOR should keep a safe distance from those who run the game in his country."

  • BBrianBlair on June 1, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    You are right Mr. Guha, people like Chinnaswamy would have resisted entry of corporate giants like Mallya and Ambani into Indian Cricket. He would have raised his voice against the power hungry politicians who now have strangled the BCCI. But the fact is also true that a ''clean'' BCCI didn't have money to reward the World Cup winning team in 1983. People like Jagmohan Dalmiya and I.S Bindra turned BCCI into the cash cow that it now is and by dong so they took whatever innocence was left in BCCI out forever and paved way for crony capitalism to make more profits. It is kinda reflection of our society in whole, and now the ''corrupt'' BCCI is funding cricket all over the world. Even the warm up matches featuring Indian team draws great. So BCCI may not be clean but it doesn't need to be bcoz when it was clean, it was starving just like every other Indian sports body.You cannot be good and powerful at the same time. Sad but true.Look at FIFA.

  • on June 1, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    An absolutely superb article, Mr Guha. Beautifully written and keeps the balance between personal emotions and objective writing throughout. One of the very best pieces to have been published on Cricinfo.

  • prashnottz on June 1, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    While reading Mr. Ramachandra Guha is always a pleasure, I have to disagree with his point regarding socialism and equality in the game. Sir, test cricket continues to feature 9 teams, by what magnitude are the teams 'equal'? You were mentioning Maharashtra has 2 teams, whereas UP has none, my question is a country which produces about 80% of cricketing revenue and accounts for that much of the fanbase which follows cricket, still has got just 1 vote in the ICC. Is that equality?

  • Leg-Breaker on June 1, 2013, 18:00 GMT

    Words to describe this article: exemplary, articulate, eloquent, and brave. I am speechless...take a bow, Mr. Guha

  • on June 1, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    This is an emotional article and doesn't really have a lot of practical solutions. Even before the IPL came along, there was corruption, cronyism and match-fixing in Indian cricket. Blaming the IPL is misleading.

  • p77gin on June 1, 2013, 17:42 GMT

    One of the best articles written on the state of affairs! I wish all the news channels pick this up and read it out loud all day long!

  • on June 1, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Once Cricketers would earn just Rs 300 / Match & only rich could afford to play full time. Pataudi changed the face of Indian Cricket by winning tests abroad. Post 1975 saw Ad's and initially just Brylcream and Palmolive , but radio & TV ads gave Cricketers taste of big money . The World Cup victory in the Pyjama version was a turning point and saw the dominance of Cricket amongst all sports. The 90's saw Match Fixing and the captains of S.Africa & India quit in disgrace. Those in control showed a blind eye.The mafia & serpents took control of the gentleman's game. 2000 heralded the death knell for Test Cricket and pyjama less less era & T20 quickly gratified all . The Serpents had indeed made an entry.The full truth will be out and it will be seen that many cricketers and the board are hand in glove. The time has come to resurrect Test Cricket have a new IPL format & legalise betting in Cricket. Else we fans will rewrite the script.. " To Hell with Cricket"

  • Ackq on June 1, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    The article started with a very impressive story but the facts mentioned in the article I suppose are not correct. For example TATA concultancy services (TCS) promoted Rajasthan Royals and I'm sure many other software/IT companies are also promoting teams. This leads to an awkward situation were it is difficult to consider the stats mentioned as credible enough to prove your point. However I appreciate the overall article till the point where I read before discovering a poor background research and so over confidently quoting it.

  • LalithW on June 1, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    Wherever money rules, morality and ethics suffer...

  • glen1 on June 1, 2013, 14:37 GMT

    This is all fine writing Mr. Guha, though the Israeli part is a major digression. India's biggest problem has been how to keep money in circulation, ie get the rich and middle classes to spend and create some employment by trickling the money down. If this is one way, so be it. The problem is that everyone is taking this as serious Indian cricket. Forget about it, just think of this as a Bollywood movie; stupid but enjoyable. Ask the West Indian, Australian and South African Cricketeers, they are enjoying the crowds and the adulation. The only thing that needs to cleaned up is match fixing; nothing else. Betting issues are left the Government; the IPL fun muuuuust go on!

  • on June 1, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    The article by Ramachandra Guha is an eye opener for those who are crazy about the IPL - it brings warm memories of the cricket clubs like FUCC - i never knew that Mr Guha was a member of the FUCC - it was a joy to note about his interest at an early age - let us hear more about his cricket exploits on and off the field rather than discussing or watching the IPL tournament

  • midnightschildren on June 1, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Just note the number of times 'I' figures in this, otherwise useful piece. Mr Guha has become so full of himself that he cant make an argument without putting himself at the centre of it.

  • on June 1, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    An eloquent article. One expects nothing less of Mr Guha, truly a great Indian writer.

  • on June 1, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    just missing the part Friends Union Cricket Club of Karnataka that will complete this whole club.

  • Archerthom on June 1, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Reading about these dedicated people reminds me why Indian cricket used to be respected everywhere, regardless of whether every match was won. To paraphrase Kipling, what we remember is how the game was played (and loved) everywhere. Too bad that's been swept away these last 10 years or so

  • alarky on June 1, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    "The entire structure of the IPL was a denial of the rights of equal citizenship that a truly "national" game should promote". Mr Guha, why do you think that a truly 'national' game should promote, "denial of the rights of equal citizenship"? Or tthis is not what you mean?

  • on June 1, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    The going rate for a club in Mumbai is 1.8 crores that is to have a say in the association, if the govt is keen on cleansing sports admin it should reduce this clout and balance it by giving a vote to selfless test cricketers who Rightfully have a stake in the running of this Great Game having brought glory to the Nation

  • on June 1, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    The sad part is these selfless cricket coaches and administrators are booted out and clubs sold for crores,ever wonder who buys these clubs and for what reasons?ever wonder what kind of hyenas gather in cricket associations and what is the purpose of their involvement

  • on June 1, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    This is the best article ever written on Indian cricket, at least from the 100s that I have read. Would have liked if you could have taken the names of Gavaskar and Shastri.

  • OnePercentGenius on June 1, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    I admire and respect you, Mr. Guha. Let me however, point out that your association with FUCC was familial. Isn't that cronyism? As a young boy growing up in the 90's, I had no access to cricket clubs and indeed any leather ball cricket, because I did not belong to a privileged class like you did. Romanticising traditional clubs as "of the people" betrays a personal bias more than a real concern for a social justice. India Cements has one such club too, if you care!

    The edifice of the IPL may well be built on corruption, from ill-gotten money - in which case I would agree - let's disband it. But if not (and we need to inquire thoroughly), please remember that the multi-million dollar enterprise has allowed millions to participate in some way, where traditional cricket did.

    The more important piece (irrespective of IPL) is on restructuring the BCCI and it's supporting State Cricket Associations, and indeed, clubs like FUCC for transparency and accountability. A real opportunity here!

  • on June 1, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    The more I watched Indian cricket over the past 20 months or so, the more I got disappointed. This disappointment keeps increasing by the minute! We have right now a very mediocre bunch of individuals masquerading as national players. Excellence is not something which they seek to achieve. Barring a couple of players, they do not seem to have the fire among their bellies to excel and make a name for themselves. And I am very happy to blame the administrators for this current situation!!

  • Clyde on June 1, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    Here we do see two cultures at work, one that could be called 'cricket' and one that could be called 'commercial'. The article is very good but 'tangential', as golax comments. I would like to read more on the culture in which conflict of interest, for one thing, could have lived so long. It is as if all us overly sincere types ought to have known the IPL was a bit of a lark. More on this culture could be published without defaming people but still telling a story. I don't think we have a fraction of it yet. Cricket could become the window on to something that is relevant to many other areas of life. To connect cricket to the world more widely, as Cardus did, is a possibility for today's cricket writers. The topic that is so unlikely at first glance, a kind of cricket, may be able to throw light on many fields, from management to ethics to criminology.

  • on June 1, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    I have no idea of the full truth of this wonderful article but I do suspect some rose tint in the views expressed. However much of it rings true and reminds me of playing village cricket in Kent from the 1970s onwards and also it makes me think of attitudes that have disappeared in recent years in the money grabbing sewer that is most international sport these days. Yes, the amateur ethos which prevailed required a very unpleasant snobbery but that was completely lacking in our experience of playing 30 plus years ago. League cricket and money at a higher level have ruined the friendly nature of the game, tough but fair, and emptied grounds because of lousy geographical situations with no easy access from poor regions of cities and tickets costing several months wages rather than the equivalent of half a penny.

  • on June 1, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Ha Ha. The Featured Comment is the one where some body wants to attend his Lecture and which doesnt talk about the Article Per Se and the author talks about capitalism and What Not . While I have appreciated Guha for his forthright comments the article seems to suggest that IPL is completely below the belt. People who have done wrong should go and that is the only rule. Would we disband the Government since there are Corrupt Politicians and You may like Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, but it would never replace the IPL. Brave Statement but I would love to be proved wrong. !

  • srikanths on June 1, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    There is no doubt that there is need for IPL to be run better with a fair representation to people across. While MP and UP may nothave teams, there are players from those places who play for one the IPL teams. Let us not forget that any sport or anything for that matter if run with love and for love generally is on a slippery slope of extinction. You have to necessarily have a commercial interest. Even Arts and artists survive only when there is money. IPL , that way has brought money and together has brought a whole lot of unsavouriness and glitz and glamour (most of it is quite gawdy). It has brough in a lot of first time fan in to stadium. IPL is seen more as a social event by the fans rather than a cricketing event. While you need first time fans the excessive glamout and glitz sometime make you wonder whether cricket is a side show or the main show. With all the drawbacks , let us admit , it has brought money to the players and you need commerce for the game to survive

  • jever03 on June 1, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Excellent article, Mr. Guha. Summed it up nicely. Since Mukul Keshavan is not writing on cricinfo anymore, you have taken over as the most important and thoughtful voice of Indian cricket on this page. Hats off!

  • mauriguru on June 1, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    very beautifully written piece - makes someone like me nostalgic who grew up playing in the B team of one of those illustrious teams he has mentioned that later fetched me a job in a great bank founded by the great Dr Visweshwaraiya. The fact of the matter is it"s pure business and there is absolutely no qualms or ethics today in business. Tatas or Infosys have never known to be focused beyond their domain expertise and apart from philanthropic forays, have not seen them to be doing things for money's sake i think we will be condemned to be a frustrated tribe of oldies in today's world of absolute commercialism (not that i care) . Cricket today is like cinema - very hardly we see emotional decisions and hardly we have seen a director casting an ugly looking person or a great actor who is a commercial flop. Much the same in Cricket. And much the same in all walks of life. One should visit the districts to see the process of Cricket selection...

  • golax on June 1, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    While a bit tangential, I find Guha's statement about the IPL to be quite similar to events in the past (as mentioned in his amazing book - A corner of a foreign field), when many sports writers chided the quadrangular tournament. Interestingly, the quadrangular tournament gave way to the Ranji Trophy. I wonder that if the IPL ever does get disbanded, will it make way for a better domestic structure.

  • anshu.s on June 1, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    @cricconnossieur,Indian cricketers don't have to come good for India all the time , first they have to come good for themselves,team mates and then there family , Harsha's point was that young cricketers get noticed , gather fame and earn decent money along the way in IPL, stop treating Team India has some sort of be all and end all, watch other professional sports for a change, all are club based structures with fanatical following.Mr Guha's reference to Tata and Infosyis is laughable as they have no history of association with cricket and are notourisly stingy with money anyways. Look i being of more rightist persuation have always oppossed socialist leanings of Guha and he comes across as a purist , i am even surprised that Guha stood up for Syed Mushtaq Ali which is a t-20 tournament, Mr Guha if fans,media,brodcasters showed interest in domestic cricket perhaps an IPL would not have been needed, but till IPL has 7 Indian players i will support it .

  • on June 1, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    With due respect to Ram Guha, let nostalgia not blind us to the faults of the administrators of the past. BCCI had its towering figures, but of charlatans and skeletons in the cupboard there was no shortage, either. Even those of unimpeachable fiscal uprightness were known for their power games, favouritism and worse. At the same time, in all the frenetic BCCI and Srinivasan bashing, let us not forget cricket is the best administered sport in India.

  • venkatesh018 on June 1, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    The most honest and heartfelt post written in Cricinfo since the fixing scandal broke out. A proud Salute to you, Ram Guha sir.

  • raghoo1 on June 1, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Mr Guha and historians like him obviously love the current mess that IPL has landed itself in. Writing about the great deeds of Wesley Hall and Dennis Lillie and Sunil Gavaskar certainly seems more poetic than IPL. However, what many people do not realize is that cricket was essentially on a death bed until the shorter formats of the game (ODIs and now the 20-20 cricket) brought the crowds and the money back... Well... maybe too much money for its own good. I do believe the IPL is a brilliant idea, though the execution so far has been flawed.... teething issues hopefully. The solution is not to throw it away completely, but bring in able adminstrators (no I dont just mean well-intentioned-past-cricketers. Im mean "able administrators") who can run this.... and pave way for the Tatas and the Mahindras and the Infys to own IPL teams - who can compete hard and fair for glory and righfully-earned profits.

  • on June 1, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    @Muyeen Not sure about Mahindras and Infosys but Tatas are known for their support for sports. I myself had gone for the trials for archery. Many sport persons are having a job in the Tata firms becasue of their meritorious performance. They have sponsored many players. So, yes, the big companies do support sports but definitely not IPL. Regarding the aricle, on the other hand to say that IPL is the mother of all corruption in Indian cricket is a false notion. I do not see how strengthening the domestic tournament is going to uplift the game and make it cleaner. Here I tend to agree with Dhoni when he says that some people are weak minded and sports as a whole needs to be aware of such people and weed out the bad elements. Not matter what people say, IPL has definitely got the attention of the country on the Samsons and the Binnys which is good for cricket.

  • MFNadeem on June 1, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Excellent article, Ramachandra Guha.

  • on June 1, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Well said, Ram. You have given voice to thousands of cricket lovers in the country. The silence of our commentariat is deafening and symptomatic of what is wrong with cricket in India - cronyism. And to Chinnaswamy and Doraiswamy add Sriraman from Chennai.

  • Muyeen on June 1, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    @cricconnossieur : Harsha Bhogle has already written an article on spot fixing. more than one actually. here is the latest http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/638396.html. As for this article I do not agree on most points here. Though IPL is prime reason for current mess in BCCI and spot fixing, but fixing has been there before IPL. why Tatas, the Mahindras, or Infosys have not promoted IPL team, do they promote any domestic team otherwise?do they promote cricket or any other sports for that matter. Why non players and rich ones are owning the team coz if former players or administrators own teams from where will they pay the players so much. financially former , current and future players have all benefited from IPL. Exposure and cricket wise lot of young players have benefited as well. this is another attempt to kill the patient instead of curing the disease

  • boredkumar on June 1, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Ram Guha is one man who has always spoke about cricket passionately. For me he is the Nevile Cardus of Indian cricket. The sorry part is that possibly no one who runs cricket in this country would know who nevile cardus was. Therein lies the problem, cricket is not run by people who love the game or are passionate about it. Its business for them but it is much more for us.

  • Rajeshj on June 1, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    Very interesting article and kudos to Mr. Guha for criticizing the IPL and its owners.. these days, it requires enormous character to speak against establishments... some real stalwarts of Indian cricket, currently plying their trade as respected commentators, have really damaged the reputation of Indian cricket more... it really hurts to see Gavaskar call a sixer as "Yes Bank maximum".. I don't think a Taylor or Waugh or Holding would do that... I would say cricket is lost in IPL and as the author rightfully pointed out, it has become a source of instant gratification for urban youth, who can spend lots of money... I think, its time the IPL is scraped off.. let a genuine cricketing body be elected to manage BCCI (not politicians or industrialists).. till they remain in Indian cricket, we would soon witness the decay of this sport in India.. the public has lost the trust pretty badly...

  • on June 1, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    The writer is spot on about the rampant corruption in IPL but let's get realistic. Most people in the populous states have very poor cricketing knowledge. Only western and southern India and to some extent Bengal have fans with any knowledge. this has nothing to do with capitalism or nationalism or whatever he is making it out to be. There are plenty of people in the south and western India who value Test cricket much more than IPL. Cricket was never about scantily clad women and celebrities and idiotic analysts and interviewers who look out of place on a pitch. A few years back there was controversy in when models replaced ball boys and they were so incompetent that they couldn't even catch a damned tennis ball. These are simply attempts to exploit a foolish TV audience and make money. Such things are not exclusive to India or cricket alone. They are issues in global sport

  • bustermove on June 1, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    Wow.....just Wow. While there have been other attempts by cricket writers to articulate the murky mess that is the IPL, it is wonderful to hear an Indian national finally call it how it is. Thank you so much Mr. Guha. I am so glad you are an Indian. Anyone else who dares to speak up is quickly accused of racism and decried for wanting to return to the colonial past. The IPL and its spawn in other countries are an abomination. That so many previously highly regarded players and commentators have hopped on the train to proclaim its wonders amazes me. It is a tawdry mess of flashing lights, loud music, backroom deals and florid corruption. Oh, and of course there are lots of sixes.......Woop-Dee-Doo!!!! I learned to play cricket as a small child. I love the game for many reasons, but chief among these are the technical subtlety of the plans laid and the grace with which those plans are made plain. Oh, and I love it's history. The IPL spits in the face of such things. It's abhorrent.

  • APal54 on June 1, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    Furthermore, I find Mr Guha's polemic against the 'unrepresentativeness' of the IPL bewildering. Perhaps I can illustrate this best by providing a paraphrase, replacing the subject of cricket with retail:

    'The introduction of foreign supermarkets into India is a tamasha for the moneyed South and West. Rural and small town India are largely left out, as are the most populous states. That Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, both of whom have large area/population, have no Wal-Mart between them, while Maharashtra has two, is symptomatic of the foreign retail's identification with the powerful and the moneyed. The entire structure of foreign retail is a denial of the rights of equal citizenship that a truly "national" retail outlet should promote.'

    Now if you're still the communist/Luddite who believes that foreign retail harms India more than it benefits it, there's not much I can say to convince you otherwise.

  • Leggie on June 1, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    Happy to see Ramachandra Guha speak his mind. So has been some of the respected ESPN Cricinfo writers. But what has been shocking is that some of the cricketers / journalists that i admire the most... the likes of Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri have stayed quiet on this issue. Like Mr.Guha says, IPL smelt corrupt right from its inception, and represents the corrupt side of India. Lets please dismantle it.

  • APal54 on June 1, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Mr Guha is less than convincing that T20 in India would be better run by existing state associations. His main assertion is their (relative) selflessness. In truth, this is only the case because there has been no money in state cricket since its inception; I find it hard to believe that an influx of money on the level of the IPL into state associations would not distort people's incentives.

  • cricconnossieur on June 1, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Ram Guha and Harsha Bhogle , two Indians I admire and revere the most; I do not miss to read anything they write. Two cricketers I admire the most , Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman. Except for Guha, the others have not raised their voices against the unseemly mess this IPL structure is built of ? Hope Harsha is listening...I'm reading every article you are writing on IPL, it is high time you come off platitudes like how it is beneficial to youngsters blah blah. Tell me one youngster who had come good out of this IPL of 6 yrs for Indian Cricket ?!! Werent Jadeja and Rahane already knocking the doors with their domestic performances?

  • nk94555 on June 1, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    I totally agree with @Vishal_07 and other folks with similar comments. Articles like these clearly indicate that cricket can never be a true professional sports like other famous professional leagues around the world. What's wrong with people owning team who never played game. I can't understand this at all. I think majority owners of Manchester City club are owners of Boston Res Sox, who have no relation to soccer. To suggest that Tata and Infosys don't teams means they are honest are laughable. Yes one thing I agree is that current IPL looks like a Tamasha than a professional sports. IPL shouldn't be connected with BCCI or ICC in any way. It should be independent body created by all the owners with its president and its own rules. It should be spread across the country and I think it can have 12-15 teams. With BCCI and its politicians involved it can never become a true professional league and will always be corrupt.

  • Kemcho on June 1, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    Quite simply a brilliant article by someone knows cricket and who is familiar with the corrupt practices in India. Unlike some of Cricinfo's other writers from India who staunchly support IPL and do not stop praising it, this article really explains what IPL is all about. It is nothing but a third rate TV programme disguised as cricket. It has not done any good to Indian cricket. The only things it has done is made the rich Indians (politicians, elite class) more rich. And along the way incredible sums have been paid out to foreign retired cricketers simply because we Indians believe that having these names associated with their teams would attract more money. It is a tragedy that writers like Mr Guha are in the decline.

  • Vishal_07 on June 1, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    While I respect Mr. Guha immensely as a write (he has written some fantastic books, 'India after Gandhi' is one of my favorites) I totally disagree with his comment on IPL as the cause behind "chamchagiri and compliance".

    Look at any list of corrupted nations, you will see socialistic leaning countries at the top more often than not. Idea of socialism feels romantic, but it only works in books and fairy tales, and leave scores of poor behind. It is not a surprise that India made progress only after its economy was opened up.

    Making money, when earned in a legal and socially responsible way, is not bad!

  • PeteB on June 1, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    Interesting article. Thanks. We in Australia have had some less than stellar characters buying sporting teams as well. It seems to be a trend worldwide.

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    Thanks for the lovely article.I was following NDTV 24*7 and was shocked to know that RTI is not enforceable to BCCI.You shall remain in dark if you do not let others to have a look into you.

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    Historian Guha does not need to be reminded dialectical theory of the base and the superstructure. Cricket is just a superstructure.

  • landl47 on June 1, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    The IPL is a private organization and can be run in any way the owners want. The blame here falls on the BCCI for being in the pocket (in both senses) of the IPL owners for the sake of money. The IPL should not have been sanctioned as an official Indian league and the BCCI should have focused its attention on competitions which it can control and which provide coaching and opportunity for young players to develop.

  • baba6660 on June 1, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Some extreme steps are advocated by Guha though they are thought provoking in the context of current scenario There is no doubt whatsoever that IPL has provided great entertainment and thrill and also helped bring to the fore talent of young cricketers. The questions to be answered is the type of governance that is required to provide a clean administration. Let us not bring down the tree to get rid of a few rotten fruits

  • on June 1, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Excellent Ranji trophy record of MP !!! When did this happen?

  • sray23 on June 1, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    Agree with everything except the end about "state associations who have run the game reasonably well for the last 80 years". One of the biggest structural problems of cricket in India is national administrators are slaves to the vote of state associations. While it's true there are some good earnest states like KSCA, PCA, Mumbai, MCA, TNCA, most officials from the other states are just as corrupt as the IPL characters mentioned here. From which an obvious fallout is that there is no accountability for the millions handed out to these people by BCCI as infrastructure grants. Just one look at the shabby way Ranji trophy logistics are done is enough to tell where these millions go.

    The only way out of this mess is to make BCCI a completely independent professional operation separate from the states. But I wouldn't hold my breath. This is India we are talking about after all. Even a well-intentioned process will be corrupted and manipulated.

  • sray23 on June 1, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    Agree with everything except the end about "state associations who have run the game reasonably well for the last 80 years". One of the biggest structural problems of cricket in India is national administrators are slaves to the vote of state associations. While it's true there are some good earnest states like KSCA, PCA, Mumbai, MCA, TNCA, most officials from the other states are just as corrupt as the IPL characters mentioned here. From which an obvious fallout is that there is no accountability for the millions handed out to these people by BCCI as infrastructure grants. Just one look at the shabby way Ranji trophy logistics are done is enough to tell where these millions go.

    The only way out of this mess is to make BCCI a completely independent professional operation separate from the states. But I wouldn't hold my breath. This is India we are talking about after all. Even a well-intentioned process will be corrupted and manipulated.

  • on June 1, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Excellent Ranji trophy record of MP !!! When did this happen?

  • baba6660 on June 1, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Some extreme steps are advocated by Guha though they are thought provoking in the context of current scenario There is no doubt whatsoever that IPL has provided great entertainment and thrill and also helped bring to the fore talent of young cricketers. The questions to be answered is the type of governance that is required to provide a clean administration. Let us not bring down the tree to get rid of a few rotten fruits

  • landl47 on June 1, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    The IPL is a private organization and can be run in any way the owners want. The blame here falls on the BCCI for being in the pocket (in both senses) of the IPL owners for the sake of money. The IPL should not have been sanctioned as an official Indian league and the BCCI should have focused its attention on competitions which it can control and which provide coaching and opportunity for young players to develop.

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    Historian Guha does not need to be reminded dialectical theory of the base and the superstructure. Cricket is just a superstructure.

  • on June 1, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    Thanks for the lovely article.I was following NDTV 24*7 and was shocked to know that RTI is not enforceable to BCCI.You shall remain in dark if you do not let others to have a look into you.

  • PeteB on June 1, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    Interesting article. Thanks. We in Australia have had some less than stellar characters buying sporting teams as well. It seems to be a trend worldwide.

  • Vishal_07 on June 1, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    While I respect Mr. Guha immensely as a write (he has written some fantastic books, 'India after Gandhi' is one of my favorites) I totally disagree with his comment on IPL as the cause behind "chamchagiri and compliance".

    Look at any list of corrupted nations, you will see socialistic leaning countries at the top more often than not. Idea of socialism feels romantic, but it only works in books and fairy tales, and leave scores of poor behind. It is not a surprise that India made progress only after its economy was opened up.

    Making money, when earned in a legal and socially responsible way, is not bad!

  • Kemcho on June 1, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    Quite simply a brilliant article by someone knows cricket and who is familiar with the corrupt practices in India. Unlike some of Cricinfo's other writers from India who staunchly support IPL and do not stop praising it, this article really explains what IPL is all about. It is nothing but a third rate TV programme disguised as cricket. It has not done any good to Indian cricket. The only things it has done is made the rich Indians (politicians, elite class) more rich. And along the way incredible sums have been paid out to foreign retired cricketers simply because we Indians believe that having these names associated with their teams would attract more money. It is a tragedy that writers like Mr Guha are in the decline.

  • nk94555 on June 1, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    I totally agree with @Vishal_07 and other folks with similar comments. Articles like these clearly indicate that cricket can never be a true professional sports like other famous professional leagues around the world. What's wrong with people owning team who never played game. I can't understand this at all. I think majority owners of Manchester City club are owners of Boston Res Sox, who have no relation to soccer. To suggest that Tata and Infosys don't teams means they are honest are laughable. Yes one thing I agree is that current IPL looks like a Tamasha than a professional sports. IPL shouldn't be connected with BCCI or ICC in any way. It should be independent body created by all the owners with its president and its own rules. It should be spread across the country and I think it can have 12-15 teams. With BCCI and its politicians involved it can never become a true professional league and will always be corrupt.