Spot-fixing: cricket mandarins not above board

Busting of the spot-fixing scandal this week reveals only one thing that India’s T20 cricket league is a sham against which the government has failed to muster courage for proper investigation.

The reason is simple — the cricket in India is run by powerful politicians from across political spectrum. Their bonhomie becomes evident on the cricket pitch as they forget their so-called political differences and joint hands to protect their supremacy over the game.

And it did not surprise me when there was not even a single political reaction when Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royal players including Sreesanth, former Indian bowler, for alleged spot-fixing. Even the cricket league commissioner and minister for planning Rajeev Shukla suddenly went missing from television screens where he is omnipresent.

I wonder the reasons behind such a silence following breaking news of the biggest cricketing scandal in India after the match-fixing row of late 1990s. The matching fixing case had resulted in long term ban on many well-known cricketers of the day. And, if the investigators of that match fixing case are to be believed the rot was deep inside both India and South African cricket teams but no action could be initiated against other players because of lack of evidence.

Delhi Police which busted the matching fixing racket involving several bookies in Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai, like the spot-fixing one, went berserk with their claims. Around 15 years later the police have not been able to file a charge-sheet against even a single player it accused of taking money to fix matches. And nobody had asked the police why it failed to file the charge-sheets after hogging the media limelight for months. Probably, the power of cricket mandarins had worked as most of these cricketers are back in business.

The power of political heads of cricketing bodies in India including NCP chief Sharad Pawar and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley was evident when then sports minister Ajay Maken was stone-walled from pushing the National Sport Development Bill, which aimed to make the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) accountable to country’s topmost legislative and accountability body the Parliament of India. The bill also aimed to making the business of cricket more transparent by bringing it under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

The Union Cabinet asked him to re-draft the bill, which never happened, and it went into deep-deep freeze. Many in the political circles also believe that Maken lost his sports portfolio to relatively junior and first time MP Jitendra Singh, who has also not promised to clean the dirty game after the spot-fixing scandal.

The only politico who has spoken is Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan who wants the government to ban the T20 cricketing league. But the single MP party does not carry any weight to move the UPA to initiate proper investigation against the league.

I have said that the league is a scam because it is difficult to believe that a bowler can promise a certain number of runs in an over without the batsman being part of the deal.

If a bowler promises to do certain things in a particular over what is the need for signal. To me, it would create an unnecessary suspicion on him. I am not saying that three players arrested are framed but then there is definitely more than what meets the eye. Let’s wait for the investigation to get over and then a better analysis would be possible. But, I am sure that nobody will touch or question the powerful top bosses of the cricket bodies in India like in the past.

(NOTE: The official name of the T20 cricketing league has not been used because of legal constraints)

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