Monday, June 10, 2013

IPL-- Spotfixing and beyond

When Lalit Modi invented the concept of IPL (Taken from EPL), many Indians were jubilant for the fact that India as a cricket crazy nation was going to its next level. IPL was a premium idea from BCCI and hence attracted only the very rich and people associated with Bollywood when it came to team formations. IPL 1 was a grand success with Owners from Reliance, India Cements and few other Bollywood celebrities bagging teams. IPL changed cricket into a great money spinner. Sex, Money, sleaze and corrupt practices get into the stream in any entertainment industry and IPL was no exception with its late night parties and all other forms of entertainment.

Coming to the topic of spot fixing, cricket those days was called a gentleman's game and was a sport that was played once in a while across the globe. Though it has always been a popular game, the likes of Kapildev and Gavaskar played very few games throughout the year and had to be contended with the amount of compensation they received. It was driven by passion those days and that is the whole reason why you and me play the game just for the sake of happiness it provides. Though Dhoni lifted back to back trophies, the 1983 world cup win will always be the most cherished win for a true Indian fan when kapil and his boys broke all odds to beat the ruthless West Indian team. I still get goose bumps when I think of those moments. Those were the good old days of cricket.

Today Cricket is a totally different affair and IPL has taken it to a level where money takes centre stage. Money is dominating the proceeding and is even helping first class cricketers become millionaire’s in no time. It's not just what you do in the field, but off the field activities in the form promotional events which form a major chunk of celebrity cricketer’s revenue. That is what would have prompted even a passionate cricketer like kapil to even compete against IPL. Little did he know about the powers of BCCI that his venture got totally bulldozed to extinction. Few years later, he too joined the IPL bandwagon to get his dues paid for the contribution to Indian cricket.

The lifecycle of a cricketer is unpredictable. You earn fame and money as long as you strike the willow or the timber on a consistent basis. Love for the game is the entry point for a true cricketer and as you succeed, money starts becoming a priority. If you look from a practical angle, it is probably the right thing to do as cricketers also have to plan for their future once they quit playing. They will have to plan early to succeed as businessmen at a later stage. Captain cool Dhoni has led by example in this front as well with his association with Rhiti and his other ventures. I do not want to talk about conflict of interest here, but would definitely like to point out certain coincidences of Raina and Jadeja being part of test teams and Harbhajan getting omitted after he closed his contract with Rhiti management firm.

Though enough money is made in this sport, it is again restricted to very few and leaves hundreds of other first class cricketers to fend for themselves in a career that has a short life span. BCCI is a so called sport body which is run by politicians and industralists rather than being run by people who were associated with the game. It is also known for bullying other cricket boards and ensures that the plans are always in line with what they draw. It is also one of the richest boards with last year's earning of close to 850 Crore INR. With so much of money under its kitty, it was very surprising to know that player payments were to the tune of only 50 crore. What are they doing with the money other than rewarding cricketers at all levels? Where is all this money going? Is the lack of insufficient payments and rewards that is forcing cricketers to engage in fixing activities? When people like chandila got trapped under the fixing scandal, it was the easy route of money that came from IPL. IPL is not about national duty, it is about entertaining people. When Gayle or Dhoni hammers a bowler for 20 plus runs, the crowd erupts in joy. Something similar to what used to happen when a gladiator striked the sword at his opponent. IPL is all about entertainment and when owners like Mallya or Ambani own a team, don't expect passion to emerge for the game. It is pure business and the ROI associated with it. It was very foolish for someone like Gurunath or Kundra to get involved as the risk vs returns never came close. For a few crores of easy money, they have lost the false reputation that he had built so far.

Having said all this, i do not support spot fixing or rigging of games, but will not compare it with games played for national duty. BCCI has a huge role to play and should come out of IPL. But again when people like Srinivasan exist, he will bull doze his way to do whatever he wants.

As far as i am concerned, i am the happiest when i play the game and will always love the game for the happiness it provides me...

Venkat Raghavan

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