Will democratisation help clean up gentleman’s game?

April 22, 2010

It started with a Twitter post and promptly snowballed into accusations of funding irregularities, corruption and misuse of power. Almost hard to believe it’s cricket that is being discussed here.

Cricket has always attracted controversy because of the large amount of money and sponsorships it involves unlike any other game.

A policeman stands guard at one of the entrances to a cricket stadium during a match in IPL tournament in Kolkata April 19, 2010. Indian authorities have begun an investigation into the financing of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the finance minister said on Monday, following allegations of corruption in the world's richest cricket tournament. REUTERS/Parth Sanyal As the game changed its format over the years, the scale and proportion of the scandals grew accordingly.

If conservatives shook their heads in 2000 after match-fixing allegations plagued cricketer Hansie Cronje, they are stunned into disbelieving silence after accusations of money laundering hounded stakeholders of the Indian Premier League (IPL) a decade later.

It seems that the sport that united a frenzied nation into a single cheering, nail-biting entity has taken a backseat amid political power play and corruption.

The Twenty20 version of the game appealed to a newer set of jet-setting fans for its sheer glamour and entertainment value without compromising on quality.

However, as income tax officials probe financial improprieties in the IPL, voices in the Indian opposition are increasingly demanding democratisation of the game to bring in transparency and accountability.

The government’s assurance that it will probe all aspects of the IPL — including source of the funds and how they have been invested and team ownership structures — notwithstanding, dissenters are now demanding that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), India’s private apex cricketing body be nationalised and IPL disbanded.

As early as July 2008, the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC) warned that the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League was susceptible to match-fixing.

“We are concerned. Let’s face it, the IPL is the first domestic competition which has attracted such huge interest and when it does it’s going to inevitably going to attract the interest of match-fixers and people like that,” ICC General Manager (Cricket) Dave Richardson had said.

He had asked the BCCI to make sure they had very strict measures in place to ensure corruption doesn’t take a foothold in the IPL or any other domestic competition.

Indian fans before the ICC World Twenty20 cricket super eight match between India and the West Indies at Lord's cricket ground, London June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Philip BrownWith questions being raised about conflict of interest in cricket board members owning a team franchise, cricket lovers say this is the perfect opportunity to clean up the game.

As nostalgic exponents of the longer version of the game say “Let’s get back to Tests matches, the way cricket used to be”, it is a possibility that when the dust settlesĀ  “cricketainment” will have taken as big a blow as the league stakeholders.


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To quote an old adage, no one is bigger than the game.

The problem is that some people who were in authority actually thought they were bigger than the game, therein lies the problem.

To expect that the Govt. or anyone else will do a dry cleaning is a myth. The moment the big names came out in the open and Pranab Mukherjee uttered that overdone cliche “the guilty will be punished”, all hopes of a clean up vanished. No one dare touch the top guns. There will be a tit for tat Tharoor – Modi exchange and it will be business as usual.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

I don’t think the Twenty20 format will be affected by this controversy. Test cricket was losing its fan base and even ODIs have given way to the shortest format of the game. IPL may die out but Twenty20 will remain popular and resurface under another name. Or maybe even return as Ten10s.

Posted by ToeKnee | Report as abusive

The IPL signifies the brash, new, arriving, noveau riche India. It can get things done no matter what a few laws or morality say. Like the Adidas ad puts it, they are just standing in the way. This is an India where the ends are more important than the means. The lotus is flowering in the muck!

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

It has surfaced already. Remember the strident chorus for Tharoor’s resignation on grounds of propriety?

How many voices are now raised from the BJP or others for NCP heads to roll? No propriety issues any more? The more the revelations from now on the less the chorus.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive


Posted by Awtar | Report as abusive