The day after a television channel broadcast a sting operation alleging deep-rooted corruption -- ranging from spot-fixing to black money dealings - in the Indian Premier League, the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) went into damage-control overdrive: suspending the players caught on camera, appointing a one-man probe committee and, through a series of media interactions, reiterating that corruption in cricket would not be tolerated.
While the board officials have made all the right noises (president N Srinivasan was more visible on television screens than he has ever been in his nine-month tenure) the nature of the beast that is the IPL means that starting and ending the investigations with these fringe players -- TP Sudhindra, Amit Yadav, Shalabh Srivastav, Abhinav Bali and Mohnish Mishra - is not enough. Here are five things a probe into the tournament must look into:
| LtoR: TP Sudhindra, DC Mohnish Mishra, PWI Abhinav Bali, Amit Yadav KXIP, Shalabh Srivastava, KXIP
1) Treat the sting as the tip of the iceberg
The players caught in the sting are on the fringes of the action - and some not even that (Srivastav has played 14 games for Kings XI Punjab, Sudhindra has played thrice for Deccan Chargers, Mishra has played 18 matches split between Deccan and Pune Warriors, while Bali and Yadav haven't played any IPL games).
An investigation must assume that the problem is bigger than these five. It must assume what they've been caught discussing so candidly on camera (Srivastav wants Rs 10 lakh to bowl a no ball, Mishra wants more than Rs 1 crore in black from franchises interested in hiring him) is just the tip of the iceberg, or a window into how the IPL really functions.
2) Hand over the probe to an independent body
The BCCI must admit that it, or any commission appointed by it, is not capable of handling such an investigation given conflicts of interest within the board. There are known links between several BCCI officials and IPL franchises, and the president N Srinivasan is himself the owner of the Chennai Super Kings. When he said yesterday that the IPL Governing council would decide if the franchises should be probed, in effect Srinivasan was saying a body that reports to Srinivasan would decide if Srinivasan should be probed.
In such an environment, the BCCI must turn to an independent government agency to investigate the matter and submit a report. A clear example is the match-fixing scandal of 2000: the BCCI's internal enquiry had discovered no wrongdoing but the CBI probe had blown the lid on a global scandal.
3) Conduct an in-depth spot-fixing investigation into all suspicious incidents
Madhya Pradesh and Deccan Chargers fast bowler Sudhindra on camera asked for Rs 50,000 to bowl a no ball in a domestic game and allegedly follows up on it.
Meanwhile, Yadav says that he felt there was something fishy going on in a Delhi Daredevils vs Kings XI Punjab game in the fourth edition of the IPL. With other players also talking about rampant spot-fixing in the IPL, any honest investigation must not restrict itself to the game mentioned by Sudhindra.
It must also go through all previous footage to find any moments that could be deemed suspicious in light of the current allegations, and thoroughly investigate them. The process will be long drawn, but is necessary.
4) Probe all franchises for black-money transactions
One of the issues that keeps coming up in the sting relates to under-the-table payments made by IPL franchisees. Mishra claims that Pune Warriors is paying him Rs 1.5 cr (much above the Rs 30 lakh he is entitled to). Between caps on spending during auctions, caps on uncapped under-19 players, and caps on other Ranji players, the BCCI has ensured a wide disparity in earnings.
In the sting, Amit Yadav alleges that Manish Pandey was given a Merc by the Pune team to make up the gap between his official earnings and his potential. Any investigation into these allegations must be across the board.
5) Bust the agent-player nexus
The journalists who carried out the sting operation posed as agents. That the players opened up so easily to people they thought were bringing them jobs means the investigation should run a microscope over the player-agent/ agent-franchise nexus.
Domestic cricket has been rife with rumours that agents had become so powerful they were influencing team selections. Imagine a similar scenario multiplied to the IPL money scale, and consider the kind of hold unscrupulous agents could have on young cricketers.
| BCCI president N Srinivasan (R) IPL Commissioner Rajiv Shukla
MPs seek probe
The alleged spot-fixing scandal in the IPL had its echo in the Lok Sabha yesterday with members seeking a high-level probe into match fixing charges and the way in which blackmoney was coming into play in it.
The matter was raised during Zero Hour by Samajwadi Party member Shailendra Kumar and supported by former cricketer Kirti Azad of the BJP. Kumar said when there was a demand to check the flow of blackmoney and bringing it back from foreign banks, “blackmoney is being turned into white through the IPL”.
Cops nab two for betting on IPL Matches
Two persons have been arrested in Kanpur for allegedly betting on the IPL matches. On a tip off that a group is involved in betting on the IPL cricket matches, police conducted a raid last night and arrested Sanjay Kumar and Satish Kumar, while two others Kukku Yadav and Mintu managed to flee, police said yesterday.
Police also recovered Rs 25,600, five mobile phones and paper for betting from their possession. The police is interrogating the arrested and inquiring further into the case.