I stand by the integrity of our cricketers

Written by: Shantha Rangaswamy
Published: Wednesday, August 2, 2000, 19:20 [IST]
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There has been so much said and written about match-fixing with almost every one finding fault with their erstwhile hero now turned villain. With so many allegations bandied about on any star worth his name (except with the notable exception of Sachin Tendulkar), there has been no one taking up cudgels for the cricketers.

So much is my faith in the players' clan that I am taking up the cudgels for the players, notwithstanding the seemingly clinching evidence, Income Tax raids and Manoj Prabhakar!

Indians are known for their great love of cricket and cricketers. For more than three decades, Indian cricketers have been virtually idolised and have received great accolades and bouquets. So much so that even film actors have envied them.

Given the over exposure that the game has received from the electronic media, cricket has a very large following. Fans gobble up every word uttered by a Gavaskar, a Kapil, an Azharuddin and a Tendulkar.

The electronic media brought the stars to the drawing rooms of the fans and every movement of their idol was given an interpretation that glorified the cricket stars.

And then the bubble burst. Overnight stars have turned into villains and fans turned into critics. The biggest scandal ever to hit the gentleman's game has turned the cricketing world topsy turvy. With Hansie Cronje in the dock, the game of cricket had to face trial worldwide.

Manoj Prabhakar, known for his fighting qualities on the field with his never say die attitude, appears set to become either the "hero" or the "khalnayak" of the Indian cricket firmament.

His heroics on the field have been relegated to the background after his match-fixing allegations against cricketing icon Kapil Dev hit the stands.

The easiest task to perform is to make accusations and indulge in mud slinging. Would a Kapil Dev, who has everything to lose and nothing to gain if it becomes public, indulge in match-fixing? It defies logic.

Admitted, money can tempt even a ghost. But Kapil Dev and Azharuddin? My first sense and sixth sense tell me no.

Both enjoy the pride of place in the history of Indian cricket. Both are world famous and have umpteen records to their credits. Both have undoubtedly served the cause of Indian cricket and have played key roles in elevating India's status in the cricketing world.

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