An Australian lesson

An Australian lesson

There is much to dislike -- even loathe if you want to be a bit harsher -- about Australian cricketers. Their gamesmanship, their sanctimonious posture even when they are on the other side of the truth and their win-at-all-cost approach to the game makes them perhaps the most unpopular lot. The reactions to the Sandpaper-gate from across the cricketing world were thus on unexpected lines - full of venom and scorn that has left the mighty cricketing nation weak in its knees.

The ball-tampering scandal has caused an irreparable damage to Australian cricket. Outrage and shame have gripped a proud sporting nation, heads have rolled and fervent calls for introspection are getting louder by the day. Their Prime Minister has called for an end to sledging culture while their outgoing coach Darren Lehmann has endorsed the Kiwi style of play which they ridiculed not too long ago.    

For all that is wrong about Australian cricket culture, however, one has to acknowledge that they were honest enough to admit their mistake and brave enough to act upon it swiftly and strongly. One can say the evidence was incontrovertible but then haven't we seen people living in denial forever even in the face of indisputable proof in India or even in the sub-continent? This is not to condone the offence committed by Smith and Co. They did hurt the game with their acts and have been made to pay the price for it. They have been named and shamed in front of the world and will have to spend the rest of their lives in regret. Cricket Australia, too, has been in the eye of the storm for allowing or even encouraging, things to come to such a pass. But let's be fair, when it was time to act, it didn't flinch for a moment. Can we say the same about the Board of Control for Cricket in India?

BCCI may be the world's richest cricketing body but when it comes ethics and morality, it's totally bankrupt. The mess that it finds itself in now with the Supreme Court-appointed panel virtually usurping its powers is because of its inability or even unwillingness to act in time. When the spot-fixing and betting scandal exploded in its face in the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League, it dragged its feet when it came to taking action against its powerful officials.

The scandal involved two franchises - Chennai Super Kings which was owned by the then BCCI president N Srinivasan, and Rajasthan Royals -whose three players were arrested for allegedly spot-fixing while their co-owner Raj Kundra was accused of betting. Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was actively involved in the CSK affairs, too was found to be placing bets on IPL matches. Involvement in betting by team owners or officials, according to IPL by-laws, would have resulted in the scrapping of the teams and to save them from being thrown out of the league, Srinivasan did everything in his power to undercut the due process of law.                      

There was irrefutable proof of Meiyappan being the team principal of CSK but instead of owning up responsibility, Srinivasan peddled a series of lies. He even went to the extent of calling Meiyappan just an "enthusiast" when the truth was that he was attending IPL auctions, sitting in the dugout and travelling with the team. In the face of demands for his resignation, Srinivasan set up a dubious probe panel, stepped aside as president, got his son-in-law and Kundra exonerated of any wrong-doing and assumed the post again.

Only the players accused in spot-fixing were found to be guilty. It was a blatant misuse of power and an inexplicable undermining of the passion and love of the game's biggest stakeholders - the fans. The Indian fan, who has made cricket what it is in the country today, also deserved an apology from the people involved in bringing disrepute to the game and for betraying their trust. Instead, we still see the same people battling for power without any remorse.

The much-maligned Cricket Australia though issued an immediate public apology to its fans as did all the players involved in the Cape Town affair. And in doing so, they showed how much they cared for their fans and how much they respected the public sentiment even though their "crime" was a lot less damaging than spot-fixing or betting.

The ball-tampering scandal has also exposed the hypocrisy of some of India's cricketing legends who are weighing in with their views on the matter now. These same greats, however, refused to utter a word when spot-fixing and betting scandal rocked IPL. With their impeccable record as cricketers and their high stature, they could have made a huge difference if they had voiced their anger about how things were being handled at that time. They owed that much to the game and to the fans that put them on high pedestal, granting them demigod status.

 

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