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December 18, 2000

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The Cricket Interview/ Kamal Morarka

'The BCCI is not somebody's monopoly'

Part I:
'Irrational exuberance to punish the cricketers'

Part II:
'Is the CBI director saying that all those working for the CBI are lily white?'

Part III:
'Can a cricketer sell the country?'

The concluding segment of Senior Cricket Correspondent Faisal Shariff's interview with BCCI vice-president Kamal Morarka.

Are you saying that match-fixing has not affected the game?

We have to be vigilant; we have to be concerned. But I don't think irreversible damage has been done to cricket.

Were you happy with the Justice Y V Chandrachud report?

With the evidence available, the judge can't say more than that. A judge can't use harsh language. He has said as much as he could, politely, because he had a handicap; because he can't tap people's phones. He can't force Prabhakar to divulge a name which Prabhakar has given to the CBI. You know I can't read your mind.

So Chandrachud after talking to all these people wrote: 'It is difficult to say that there is match-fixing but as far as betting is concerned, it is going on.' What did he have at his disposal? He is not a commissioner of inquiry.

But he got many facts wrong...

Tell me, what fact did he wrote was wrong?

The first one that they are saying Aamir Sohail and Azharuddin went out for a toss and Azhar had won the toss, but he said he had lost it. He said to my knowledge Sohail and Azhar never went out for a toss and they have never been captains at the same time. The 1996 World Cup was one case when Sohail was Pakistan's captain..

That may be because he is not a cricket fan.

But a judge making a mistake like this for an inquiry that is so important... Why hasn't the BCCI been vigilant about these things?

See, everybody has become wiser after Hansie Cronje's tape was found by the Delhi police. You are talking about the BCCI. Tell me, if there is so much betting going on in the country and the CBI has the audacity to write that the underworld is becoming involved and the country's security is in danger, what is the CBI doing? What is the Intelligence Bureau doing?

The country's security is in danger -- by a bunch of jokers who are called bookies? What are we talking about? And the country's security? Who's supposed to control? The BCCI? That is the biggest laugh of the year.

I don't know what I am trying to say, but I am first trying to find out what the CBI is trying to say. I have not understood that report which everybody takes so seriously. That report says nothing; it says betting is taking place on a large scale; the underworld is getting interested in betting and the country's security is in danger.

Now, if that is so, then it is not a matter that the BCCI can tackle. That the home ministry should tackle. It further states that these are the players who have had intimate contact with bookies; here are their mobile numbers, we have not been able to trace.

How could they?

How could they, is not my problem; I am not the police.

But you have to understand their point of view.

I understand their point of view.

Ajay Jadeja says he knew these people, but he did not know they were bookies. And he never spoke about cricket to them. Would you believe him?

That's what he said.

To speak for 866 seconds to someone...

The journalists have done their job and Mr Muthiah is highly impressed by you all, but I am not. What can I do? And everybody is telling me, 'What Mr Morarka, everybody knows you are not agreeing'. I must be some sort of a fool.

You have not even once said in this conversation that, yes, the cricketers are guilty, or no, there is something wrong going on amongst the cricketers...

The CBI has investigated for six months and I don't think anybody today has the authority to say anything more than what the CBI has said. After six months they have found something more. How? I don't know. The 162-page report says this much and nothing more. And whatever it has said, the players concerned are denying.

And you believe the players?

You have to wait and weigh both sides. And you also have to understand that before the police the bookies -- who are admittedly in this kind of business -- will implicate anybody. I mean we are living in a society where the norms are so clear. Why are different norms being sought to be created for cricketers?

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not in favour of any person doing any wrongdoing. If any wrongdoing is proved, please get rid of it; least of all, in the game of cricket, which I love. If anybody throws his wicket, I have no respect for him. But give them the same leeway that you would give to any other citizen.

You haven't even told them that something should be done about it.

I told him [Muthiah] and asked to have the meeting postponed. But he didn't consider it for reasons he told you.

As a person who is not convinced with all this, aren't you going to do anything about this?

What can I do? There are procedures to be followed. I mean, I can't go to town saying I am not convinced.

Do you think that media hype makes cricket appear in real danger in the country?

Yes. Definitely. I don't know about the hype, but there is no danger to cricket in the country.

As regards the BCCI, I have spoken to people from many associations and they feel the BCCI is just not accountable enough.

Everybody in the organisation can have different views.

Do you think it has been accountable enough with the money that has gone in for coaching?

Correct. We give money to the associations and we do whatever monitoring is humanly and rationally possible.

There are some associations which feel they are not being held accountable for the money; they are getting money just for the sake of votes.

The BCCI is not somebody's monopoly. Every year there is an election and if the central body is not functioning properly then the members can change it.

Don't you feel, like Mr Raj Singh Dungarpur said on a television programme, there is inheritance in India and it's always going to work like that?

The CBI has exposed itself thoroughly by quoting the Rajasthan association, because there are 10 associations in this country where the same man has been president for ten years.

That is the weakest part of the CBI report. I want to keep that as my trump card the day the CBI is called to be accountable. The CBI has just copied from Mr Bindra's memorandum.

You are saying that the CBI just copied what Mr Bindra said.

This whole thing has begun from Mr Bindra's statement. If he would not have named Kapil Dev, the press would not have taken it in such a big way. And look at the joke, Kapil Dev has been acquitted by the CBI.

Some people allege there is a deal in that too.

Ask Mr Bindra. Mr Bindra is a great man to tell you about deals and what goes inside. I am but a na´ve man. But I like Mr Bindra and he is a warm man. And when he talks about cricket he talks sense. When he talks at the meeting even today he talks sense.

Are you happy with the quality of the nation's stadia?

You should have come to Jodhpur. You would have been happy to see a place like Jodhpur has a stadium like this. Beautiful stadium. I wish that could be transported to Jaipur. The Jaipur stadium is a multi purpose stadium. Everytime we have to struggle to put it together for cricket. The Jodhpur stadium is also under the government, but it is hardly being used because nothing is happening in Jodhpur.

The big Test centres which have the money will always do well. So Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, Chandigarh, because of Mr Bindra, they have all done well. Gwalior, because of Mr Scindia. You need patrons; without patrons, nothing happens. Money is needed for everything. To maintain the stadium for the one match in the year, which you may get or you may get next year.

So why is Mr Muthiah in such a rush?

Ask him. He has been a friend of mine for, maybe, ten years. He is a very rational person, but I don't think he has been exposed to media pressure. And he has been totally pressurised.

Back to Part I: 'Irrational exuberance to punish the cricketers'

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