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IPL 6, says Bikash Mohapatra, was a reality check. Cricket has become an addiction, so much so that we conveniently forget what is wrong with the game.
The farcical seven weeks are over!
The sixth edition of the Indian Premier League is done with and it is time to focus on the next big event on the choc-a-bloc cricket calendar.
Before you jump the gun, this is no preview of the ICC Champions Trophy. It is an earnest entreaty to the millions of cricket buffs of this country not to forget what happened in this edition in a huff.
IPL VI was, indeed, a reality check.
It yet again reiterated the fact that fans in this country are always taken for granted. Blame it on the lack of sporting successes, paucity of icons in other sports or plain laziness, cricket has become an addiction, so much so that we conveniently forget what is wrong with the game.
It is this mad love of the game that the administrators of the game take advantage of. The handful few who run the game in this country are very much aware that public support of the game is (and will be) unflinching.
They have also, over the years, realized India is the only country where this craze for cricket can be marketed; the game can be sold. That explains why the Board of Control for Cricket in India is literally the game's world body, the International Cricket Council a mere pawn.
The 2011 World Cup was perhaps the biggest showcase of this might. Not only was the tournament moved from its original venue (Australia and New Zealand) to India, but also every rule in the book was tweaked to the home team's advantage. A long-awaited second success for Team India meant all these behind the scene activities were lost in the labyrinth.
It is to maintain this stranglehold, apart from keeping competition (read ICL) at bay, that the IPL was created, a T20 competition that borrows everything that can be borrowed from major global competitions and packages it for Indian fans.
The IPL is but another competition where the only rule is that there are no rules. From allocation of franchisees to player auctions to choice of venues, everything is tweaked as per convenience and used as means to reach the end (minting millions). Amid all this is the board's obstinacy to not come under the RTI, and thereby make all the transactions public.
Still in a fledgling state the IPL has become a $3 billion enterprise and is what can be termed 'appointment television'.
However, amid all this fanfare and finance the game got lost somewhere only to emerge with an ugly face in this sixth edition.
The spot-fixing scourge, a few years back, soiled the reputation of the Pakistan team on the global stage. And now has raised its head in India. Come to think of it, the whole episode is anything but a surprise, given the Indian tendency to learn negative at a faster rate.
As mentioned above, with India being the lone country where cricket can be sold, the bookies (all Indians) had their plans in place, only for the Delhi Police (kudos to them) to blow the lid off.
From a prominent player (Shantakumaran Sreesanth) to a team boss (Gurunath Meiyappan) quite a few names have surfaced. Two of the sides allegedly involved, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, made it to the play-offs. With each passing day it became predictable.
So much so that social networking sites were abuzz with posts about what has been fixed and who will win which match. Mumbai Indians' triumph, taking nothing away from the team, was predicted well in advance.
Many posts indicated it was a means to assuage public outrage (whatever little it was) against the board in general and its honcho in particular. In fact, the day police nabbed Meiyappan, a few hours later his father-in-law was going up to the stage at the Eden Gardens to present the trophy to the winners, somewhat reminiscent of an equally shameless Suresh Kalmadi giving away medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad, days after details of the CWG scam had emerged.
But then, this is India; a country where people have short memory and administrators are shamefully shameless. How many times have we seen the Prime Minister taking responsibility for the many scams his colleagues are involved in?
Do we remember that when inflation was at an all-time high, our finance minister rather furtively moved on to Rashtrapati Bhavan, shunning his responsibilities for a post which has none? Where was the accountability?
The same applies to cricket as well. Our administrators are powerful, albeit not accountable.
Does anyone remember the person responsible for creating this money-minting behemoth has been absconding for a few years? No doubt he made enough, in the editions he was in charge, to help him comfortably settle overseas.
He surfaces time and again on some news channel to blabber nonsense in that stammering voice. Besides, he is active on a socially networking site, rather ironically, wishing that the offenders in the spot-fixing case be punished as per law.
The point is the administrators take the fans for granted simply because they are allowed to. It is time that stopped.
It is time fans stop forgetting and forgiving their favourite players, and ignoring all the vices that surround Indian cricket. It is time to make some tough decisions.
It is time the board is made accountable to the people on whose allegiance it prospers.
It is time Indian cricket fans put aside emotion and focus on reason. Only then will Indian cricket emerge clean.