The BHA found itself isolated by other state associations when it sought to take the case of corruption, and fixing literally at the doorstep of highest office of cricket body. Nobody wanted to bell the cat fearing the consequences. The fear that the biggest money spinner in world cricket, the Indian Premier League, might collapse was also one of the contributing factors for their deep silence. The previous administration sought to brush various issues under the carpet when an internal disciplinary committee gave a ‘clean chit’ maintaining no grave offences had been committed.
The Supreme Court took upon itself to save the game for the common man and appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal and his probe panel to go into all the issues and unravel the plot. The findings of the Mudgal Committee shocked the nation when it brought into the open the extent of the rot that had set in.
Alarmed by the impunity of administrators, the Supreme Court had to repeatedly reprimand the top officials for their lackadaisical attitude in dealing with matters such as conflicts of interest pervading in cricket administration, along with corruption.
Every cricket fan owes his gratitude to Mudgal and Lodha Committees for making sure the culprits were brought to book, teams were suspended and the restructuring process underway. All this started with BHA going to courts and fighting it out against extreme odds.
A singular thought must have crossed minds of fans during the whole sordid episode.
Cricket is a wonderful game which brought out the best in some who went on to became legends by virtue of their skill and dedication, with love and affection heaped on them by their fans. That brought them unparalleled fame and laurels to last a lifetime. Shouldn’t then they have a role to play when the game is brought into disrepute? Shouldn’t they have at least protested when gross irregularities were committed and overlooked? Shouldn’t they have stood up to the machinations of a rotten few who had no qualms of destroying the faith of a cricket-mad nation at all? If the legends had condemned such incidents unequivocally, no official would have dared to continue against the huge groundswell of public outcry.
Hopefully under new dispensation envisaged by Lodha Committee, cricketers will have more say in running the game in the country.
But the reality is that even after close to three years since spot-fixing surfaced, it appears there is no law in place to prosecute the players and hence they could walk free. Late last year, a Delhi Trial Court dropped all charges against the Rajasthan Royals players who were caught on alleged spot-fixing charges. The court expressed its helplessness to prosecute the cricketers without a law in place.
In England, the Scotland Yard filed a case against Pakistan players, prosecuted them and once it was proved in court, the players were sent to jail.
In the case against South African captain, late Hansie Cronje, too there was a public trial and after charges against him were proved, he was sent to jail.
Unless specific laws are introduced by BCCI in unison by the government to make match-fixing, spot-fixing and corruption a cognizable offence and penalties and punishment fixed for the offences committed, no single player will go to jail even if he were to be caught committing the same offences again. One hopes the Lodha Committee will look into this aspect and recommend suitable guidelines how the law can take its course to ensure such culprits do not go scot-free.
Another urgent matter that needs to be addressed in Indian cricket is the issue of drugs and doping. Recently a Pakistan cricketer was caught using one of the banned substances. One even now remembers Shane Warne being suspended from playing the World Cup as he took a banned substance. Cricket Australia had no hesitation in dropping Warne from its squad and he was suspended for an year. In India, Rahul Sharma and South Africa’s Wayne Parnell were caught for allegedly using a banned substance at a rave party in Mumbai after an IPL match.
World Anti doping Agency (WADA) has stipulated guidelines and has appealed to various sports associations to make sure they follow them to keep drugs out of sport. So far India is not one of the signatories of WADA.
Roger Federer is making sure he follows the secrecy clause and is available for drug testing during that period. As the most recognised face in tennis today, Federer strives hard with his other colleagues to ensure drugs are kept out of tennis as far as possible. We need similar leadership in cricket as well.
One hopes the Lodha Committee will address this important issue in future to save the game and the youngsters who take up this profession from the menace of doping.
First Published: January 11, 2016, 9:27 AM IST