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September 3, 2014
'IPL too powerful' - Botham
Ian Botham used the platform of his MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture to brand the IPL "too powerful" for the good of cricket and said he believed it should not exist.
He said that the tournament provided the "perfect opportunity for betting and therefore fixing" and on the subject of corruption also called on the ICC to do more to expose the "big names" involved.
"I'm worried about the IPL - in fact, I feel it shouldn't be there at all as it is changing the priorities of world cricket," Botham said. "Players are slaves to it. Administrators bow to it.
"How on earth did the IPL own the best players in the world for two months a year and not pay a penny to the boards who brought these players into the game?
"I know this has been modified to a degree, but it is still an imbalance. The IPL is too powerful for the long-term good of the game.
"Corruption is enough of a problem in itself, but the IPL compounds that problem given it provides the perfect opportunity for betting and therefore fixing."
Expanding on the corruption theme, he added: "We have seen a few players exposed, but does throwing the odd second XI player into jail solve it? To kill the serpent, you must cut off its head. The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit must pursue the root of the problem and if necessary expose the big names."
Closer to home, Botham questioned whether the presence of central contracts had made England's players too "cosy" and also called on the UK government to do more cricket in schools.
"Central contracts are brilliant, but it has now become so essential to the England player that the sharpness goes," he said. "A long contract is a cosy contract. To play international sport, above all else - above even freshness and rest - you must have desire. Hunger is still the most important attribute for any sportsman."
On the facilities and time given to sport, especially cricket, in schools Botham said it drove him "insane" how little is being done and called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to live up to his promise of making change happen.
"Why aren't the Government focusing on sport as a necessity in the school curriculum?" he said. "This subject drives me insane. I feel it is my duty to point out the problems that face sport in schools, and specifically cricket.
"The problem is now that schools are too big and there is no personal touch with the teachers. And as schools get bigger, one of the things you lose are your playing fields," he added. "Come on David Cameron - when I came to Downing Street to meet you, you made all the right noises and promised to come back to me with your ideas. I'm still waiting."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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