Regain fans' trust

Team India have done the country proud by winning the farewell edition of the ICC Champions Trophy in England on Sunday. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have played consistently good cricket, winning every match they played over the last three weeks.

Winning matches in England has never been easy for touring Indian teams; the last time when they travelled there on a bilateral tour they lost every Test match. But this time India conquered English conditions and won each match convincingly. The victory is all the more significant since barring Dhoni and Virat Kohli, no other member of this team played the last World Cup at home that India won. En route to the knockout stage, India also defeated arch rivals Pakistan – without the services of greats like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Zaheer and Yuvraj.

Yet, celebrations are conspicuously missing at home. Our distinguished cricket commentators on television channels, who did everything to dismiss the recent scandals during the Indian Premier League season, were quick to point out that team required this win to overcome their IPL nightmare. However, the point is that even the most hardcore supporters of the team and admirers of the game had become cynical about the match results in the wake of the betting and match-fixing scandals that have rocked cricket in the recent past. If cricket commentators think that everything would be forgotten in the wake of the Champions Trophy victory, they are wrong.

The need of the hour is to honestly address the cause of this growing cynicism in which nobody, including the players, the administrators, and match officials is beyond suspicion. It is not good for the game’s future, if those who sustain the game’s popularity – the millions of fans – begin to believe that every match result is rigged, however much such beliefs be misplaced. The fans expected top cricketers to reassure them in the face of the IPL VI fiasco. But all they witnessed was silence on the part of players like Dhoni and Tendulkar. Who will reassure the fans if the players who enjoy stature and credibility keep their mouth shut at a time when some fellow players and the game’s top officials in the country stand exposed? It will take much more than a tournament victory to restore the dented credibility of the game. All accusations of match-fixing, spot-fixing and betting should be investigated in a transparent manner, the guilty should be handed down exemplary punishment, and preventive steps must be taken to clean up the way the game is played these days.

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