Photo Courtesy: Santabanta
Cricket is a gentleman’s game,or so they say. If you have been following cricket for the past few years or even the past few seasons of the Indian Premier League popularly known as the IPL, you would surely shake your head in disagreement with the phrase mentioned here. A game that has solidified legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Brian Lara and numerous other cricketers has been watched more with a critical eye than anything else as of late. The very tournament of IPL is mired so much with controversies that it has painted nothing more than a dirty picture for not only the tournament but to the game of cricket itself.
Currently the IPL has plunged into its fifth edition and has been a centre of controversy on more than one occasion. In fact this cricketing extravaganza has been making more news for the hullaballoo surrounding it than the contests between the teams which gradually seem to destroy the fabric of the game. And that too, despite the fact that this tournament is more about the entertainment package that it boasts of than serious cricketing bouts.
One of the owners of the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Bollywood Megastar Shah Rukh got allegedly banned for a period of five years from entering the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. This ban was applied when Shah Rukh was said to have entered the ground after that day’s play, drunk and abusing the officials after which the officials lodged a complaint against him. While Shah Rukh’s side of story is that he was not drunk and went there to pick up his children along with their friends and the altercation started only when he objected to the officials manhandling the children, which did not go down well with him. A News is always spiced up more than it should when itfeatures a celebrity involved in a controversy as they ar media’s favourite child, but at the same time there is an open end possibility to the fact that Shah Rukh probably tried to misuse his status and tried to exploit his power. Whatever the true story may be, eventually headlines were made,channels got their footage and IPL was in the news,even if for a different reason than it should be.
The after match parties have been a witness to inebriated cricketers like Royal Challenger’s Bangalore’s Luke Pomersbach to allegedly molest a woman which led to his arrest. Apparently, BCCI steered off the issue by not taking any responsibility for the individual behaviour of the players.
One of the most shocking turn of controversies that has been witnessed in this edition is the issue of spot fixing in the tournament. No, it is not supposed to be confused with match fixing. A news channel conducted a sting operation to expose the racket of spot fixing, which cost five players namely Mohnish Mishra, Shalabh Srivastava, TP Sudhindra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali the tournament for reportedly 15 days. And there would be more young budding cricketers who would be lured by the constantly lurking spot fixers in the stadium. On top of that there is already unaccounted money making its way into the event, with the lack of transparency coming into question. The citizens with black money are utilizing that money into the tournament by gambling whether big or small.
Good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, whatever might be the backstory and authenticity behind the controversy, the BCCI and the channel airing the tournament have achieved their objective of IPL being the most talked about and most discussed affair of the season over every other news. But this does not put an end to the pertinent questions ringing in the heads of the people concerned about the game that they so richly love. Does it put an end to the fact that cricket is a game with rules and boasts of sporting spirit? Has the IPL led to cricketers especially youngsters being lured for money and easy fame? It has already reached such a stage where people raise eyebrows at every ball, body language of the players, and the way a team plays doubting if the game is fixed or not.
The game is supposed to be a cricketing extravaganza but besides the amusement, it is also to keep the dignity of the sport intact. It should not tarnish the credibility of the game and in a nation where it is believed to be a religion of its own kind, it should not be remembered as the shame of India. Legendary Pakistani pacer, Wasim Akram remarked that IPL is only being tried to run down by the people jealous of its success and while it is true that success is always met with jealous, insecure and negative feedback by a section around, IPL has given certain valid reasons for its critics to lash out at it.
However, the solution that certain people have come up with i.e. to ban the game is incredibly ridiculous as well. If a bank is robbed by the robbers, you don’t shut down the bank or ban the bank from doing any sort of its banking activity in the future, but you try to catch and punish the robber. Similarly, putting a ban on IPL is not a solution, but trying to make the transactions transparent, keeping a check on the spot fixing and other forms of corruption can.
IPL itself is not new to controversies. IPL 1 saw a never seen before incident of Harbhajan Singh slapping his indian teammate Sreesanth which became a talk of the town and ended up costing Singh the rest of his matches and approximately a whopping 3 crore rupees. The third edition saw the Chief Commissioner Lalit Modi being exiled by the BCCI for his supposedly conducted misdemeanours. Whenever in the past has there been a dipping TRP in question, the controversies have made sure to sail the boat smoothly.
Well, ultimately it all boils down to the fact that IPL is more of a business in the name of sports and controversies will continue to galore the event ultimately luring the viewers and keeping the channel owners busy with cash counting. But in the midst of it, there is a dirty picture of the game being painted and shame being brought to the game as well as the nation. We can just hope for IPL to be remembered as more of a cricketing amusement, a Launchpad for youngsters and not for tarnishing the reputation of the game around the world and especially in a country where it is followed like a religion.