Is BCCI ruled by vested interests?

Written by: D Ram Raj
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2000, 12:30 [IST]
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Bangalore: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mandarins are back again at their vacillating best. While the whole country was waiting in eager anticipation of "sternest punishment" for those indicted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the match-fixing scam, the BCCI have deferred the decision by another week.

If one goes by the media reports that have been emanating on the attitude of the BCCI on the whole sordid affair, then the BCCI's latest stance does not augur well for the game of cricket in India. The game stands today as a passion among the masses and the BCCI has a duty towards the public to come out with constructive measures to ensure that the people are not taken for a ride.

The sense of despondency that crept in after the Delhi police broke the scam in April this year was about to be washed away by India's performance at Nairobi (mini World Cup), Dhaka (Bangladesh's inaugural Test) and the recent series win at home against Zimbabwe at home.

The public and the connoisseurs of the game were looking forward to a positive trend and turn in Indian cricket. They were hoping that the BCCI would put behind the match-fixing scam by announcing big punishments for the players allegedly involved in the scandal.

But, the whole exercise of the BCCI now appears to be dithering on what action has to be taken. One school of thought believes that the cat has been set among the pigeons in the BCCI with the threat of a possible legal fall out if players are imposed with stiff punishments.

While the five players named along with former physio Dr Ali Irani have maintained that they are innocent at different points of time, the CBI has claimed that it has sufficient damaging evidence to nail the players. Can't the BCCI rely on the CBI's facts to prove their decisions in case some players went to court?

The thought of players going to court itself is still a hypothetical issue as the BCCI has not spelt out clearly by what it means by punishment to those found guilty. While BCCI president Dr A C Muthiah has repeatedly spoken about "sternest action", he has not clearly stated what the action would be, against whom it would and most important of all when it would be announced.

The Special General Body Meeting at Calcutta on Wednesday was a golden opportunity for the BCCI officials to sort the whole issue out threadbare and put a full stop to the match-fixing controversy. The decision of the BCCI to defer the decision on punishments has left a bad taste.

Dr Muthiah has conceded that there was a difference of opinion among the members. Can he please explain what the difference of opinion was and what the solution could be? Former all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar has alleged that the government and the CBI had not done a fair job and were trying to protect "someone special".

The BCCI now appear to be going an extra yard in trying to protect more "special" people. The focus of the whole world has been on India ever since the Delhi police broke out the Hansiegate issue. South Africa have conducted a seemingly convincing probe and have banned Hansie Cronje for life.

The Australian Cricket Board while protecting their players by not making the issue public for nearly four years also fined two of their players - Mark Waugh and Shane Warne - for their alleged involvement with a book maker. The Pakistan Cricket Board conducted a probe and slapped various fine on eight players.

In the light of the above, the BCCI should act and act fast as the crux of the match-fixing episode seems to lie in India following the exposure made by the Delhi police. The moot point is are we going to see the end of the entire drama or are we going to get mired in more controversies? Definitely this is not cricket.

The more the BCCI delay on the matter, the more room for suspicion that there is more to it than meets the eye. The BCCI seem to be more interested in catering to vested interests rather than spilling out the truth to the public, who have made demigods of cricketers and temples of cricket associations.

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