BCCI should undertake clean up job

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Thursday, December 7, 2000, 17:10 [IST]
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The only logical conclusion to the elaborate investigation into the betting and match-fixing controversy was punishment in the form of the most stringent of penalties. But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) dithered, delayed and even damned the investigators. Finally, thanks to a line of least resistance pursued by its chief, Dr Annamalai Chidambaram Muthiah, the worst fears of amnesty to those named, were completely ruled out.

Dr Muthiah knew that he had the support of almost the entire number of affiliated units, if not that of a couple of highly-placed persons in the BCCI. He also showed enough boldness to pooh-pooh interference from top politicians and even ministers.

The imposition of life-ban on one of India's most celebrated cricketers, Mohammed Azharuddin, along with his alleged partner in several nefarious activities connected with match-fixing, Ajay Sharma, is a move that is as big a deterrent, as it is historic in many ways. Furthermore, the tremendous popularity of debonair Ajay Jadeja must take a terrible tumble, inasmuch as the five-year suspension will totally ruin his career, which anyway had never really peaked.

Even as one would like to applaud the earnest mission undertaken, amongst others, by the former Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, his deputy Shahnawaz Hussain and the various investigating agencies, the same accolade, however, cannot be handed out to the organisation that was the most concerned, the BCCI, whose image was somehow preserved by the level-headedness shown by its president.

At every stage, since the big controversy first broke out with what had then looked like a vindictive accusation of bribery made by Manoj Prabhakar against former captain and world's leading all-rounder Kapil Dev in 1997, the BCCI, for some strange reasons, had been running away from its responsibilities.

Even when the whole issue had jelled with the revelations of the Delhi Police in April last, in which Hansie Cronje was directly named in several match-fixing cases, the cricket administration had reacted adversely. "Rubbish, it's all rubbish," was the immediate reaction of a high official. As Cronje himself confessed his guilt, the remark turned to "But no Indian player is ever involved." With its credibility greatly shaken, the BCCI reluctantly agreed to a CBI inquiry.

Six months later, after the CBI report was presented, no one was in doubt which Indian players were indeed involved. The BCCI not only did not accept the findings of the CBI interim report, but also took strong exception to adverse remarks made against the working of the BCCI. The highest authority in the cricket administration, however, was realistic enough to know that the whole issue was rotten enough for a drastic dose of cleansing. It was the Muthiah master-stroke to appoint former CBI chief K Madhavan for the job.

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