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Friday, June 4, 2010

Edition20: Loser is Cricket

Now that the Indian Premier League has become more entertaining for scandals that are breaking daily, than the cricket matches themselves, the debate over the scandal is attracting more players in it Even as the opposition stalled proceedings in both Houses of Parliament on Friday, demanding a joint parliamentary probe, everybody was talking about the shortfalls of cricket in the country.

In the past, JPC option has been used with mixed results. As on now, the air is full of suspicion of both cover-up and vendetta. This scandal, now using any other word to describe the developments will be detrimental to the truth and level of seriousness, has again highlighted the manner in which sport of cricket is administered non-transparently and discriminately in the country. It is riddled with conflicts of interest fuelled by patronage.

The concept of IPL when it was conceived by the BCCI was a sound one. But it took a form wherein right connections and patronage became the keyword. If the JPC is set and it really goes to the deepest wrongdoing in the affair, a possibility as remote as Hockey gaining same popularity as Cricket, the cricket will be forever damaged, blemished in India. It will therefore be a big challenge to save the IPL's innovative content while cleaning up its administration.

IPL and controversy are running side by side since the league's very inception. However this time, it's a crisis of monumental proportions as allegations ranging from money laundering to betting to match fixing are flying thick and fast.

Besides, the league's conceptualiser and boss Lalit Modi is almost out with disgrace as the BCCI prepares to shut him out after being embarrassed by the Income tax department's raids that have revealed murky financial dealings and benami holdings in at least three franchises.

Junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor lost his job after trying to "mentor" the Kochi franchise' bid while two other ministers in the government -- Shard Pawar and Praful Patel -- are facing the heat for their alleged involvement in the IPL's affairs.

There are also various lines of thinking which range from banning the IPL to nationalize the BCCI, suggesting that the game will be free of market notions and influence of money. Cricket has evolved tremendously in the past decades — from one-day internationals, to abolition of rest days in Tests, to the use of technology to assist umpires, to Twenty20, and now, when the club of cricket-playing nations shows no sign of growing, to a league format.

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