The verdict is out! BCCI has imposed life ban on one cricketer, five-year ban on another and one-year ban on remaining three who were involved in spot-fixing scandal during the last edition of IPL. A Disciplinary Committee of BCCI, comprising of Mr. N Srinivasan, Arun Jaitley and Niranjan Shah, took the decision to impose a life ban on T.P. Sudhindra, five year ban on Shalabh Srivastava, and one year ban each on Mohnish Mishra, Abhinav Bali and Amit Yadav. But, is the matter over? Probably not, as there is no indication of how to protect the players from the fixers. The issue of paying the players in kind by the franchises, more than the agreed amount, is not yet being addressed. Therefore, the measures taken by BCCI may resolve the problems in short term, but will not clean the game in long term.
It is important to note that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has its anti-corruption unit, called Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) which is responsible for protecting the game of cricket from the influence of fixers. ICC accepts that there is a rapid growth in the betting market across the globe and the bookies are constantly trying to influence the outcome of the matches by alluring the players. Therefore, the ACSU has to serve three objectives to protect the interest of the game:
i) To investigate any irregularity
ii) To educate players
iii) To prevent the curse of fixing – spot or match
The educational part is crucial to remove fixing issues. As a part of this programme, ICC educates the players of the activities of bookies and penalties that may be imposed for fixing a match or on spot or for receiving money or other benefits with an intention to influence the outcome of a match.
BCCI has its own Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate these issues of fixing. Similar independent bodies are functional in Pakistan, Australia and England.
The question is – “How effective these bodies are?” In recent past, we have seen a pro-active role of the media in revealing the stories of match/ spot fixing. A sting operation by India TV, a news channel of India, revealed the spot fixing and “extra” payment issues during the last edition of IPL while the News of the World conducted a sting operation to catch the Pakistani trio, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, in fixing spots in the 4th Test Match against England in 2010. In case of IPL, BCCI took the charge only after the incident was revealed. BCCI played a reactive role in this case. The ACSU of ICC played similar reactive roles when the issue of spot fixing was revealed in 2010. Despite the initial success, these anti-corruption units fail to eradicate, or at least minimize, the fixing of matches. What is the reason behind it? Is there any dearth of money for taking comprehensive measures to remove the curse of match/ spot fixing? Or there is a problem in the mentality of the top brass of the Governing Bodies?!
Whatever be the reason, it is high time that the Governing Bodies act with an objective to clean the game. The fans, especially the die-hard fans, will lose interest on cricket if it’s integrity is not restored soon. This loss in interest will impinge upon the commercial aspects of cricket. So, for the larger benefit of cricket, the Boards should start taking steps to remove the curse of corruption, permanently. We expect ‘clean’ cricket, free from ‘fixing’ and we want administrative bodies of cricket to empower their anti-corruption wings to play a significant role in this regard. We all are waiting to see pure cricket, a game which can give us pure enjoyment!