The spot-fixing scandal has formed dark clouds over the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League, but on Friday the mood at the M Chinnaswamy stadium was as bright as ever.
A large group of women cricketers came to watch Chennai Super Kings training and cheered MS Dhoni and his wards, while the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s practice session too attracted a good number of spectators.
Even though the ticket counters at the Cubbon Road displayed the ‘sold out’ board, there were several optimistic fans waiting to give one last shot at tickets for the Saturday’s match, indicating the still lingering interest in the IPL.
Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming summed up the situation quite nicely. “We all know that in cricket more than the bigger picture the isolated incidents can be dealt with firmly by the law,” said Fleming in an optimistic tone.
“At this stage let the process take its due course, and let’s not talk as if its done and dusted. Anything that sullies the game and the quirks of the game is a concern. One hopes it is not a bigger picture,” said Fleming.
The former New Zealand skipper admitted the players too needed to take responsibility to tackle such issues. “It comes back to the players. Yes, there are processes and players are under watch and movements in the team hotel are observed but you cannot watch a player 24x7. The players themselves govern the game. Players are well educated and the naivety around match-fixing has been somewhat dispersed.”
The scandal, Fleming said, has not affected the focus of Chennai Super Kings. “We are lucky that we are closer to the end of the tournament and the focus is on being either one or two going into the finals. That will keep us on task. Look the distractions are in front of everybody aren’t they?”
However, Fleming admitted that the spot-fixing saga would prompt many to over-analyse the proceedings in the match.
“We are sad that these kind of things happen in cricket. Like the point you raised, every quirk in cricket will now be over-analysed and accusations will fly. The game of cricket is quirky but the events of the last two days do add a sinister approach, don’t they? The beauty of cricket is the unknown and that has been sullied.”