Cricket is a religion in India. Cricket stars are demigods. Bring on the clichés, you might say, although they are largely true in this case. What shocks me and many other cricket lovers in India is that no cricketer worth his salt, past or present, has spoken out about match fixing, spot fixing and all that’s going wrong with the Indian Premier League (IPL.)
Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of N. Srinivasan, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India ( almost definitely the most powerful cricket body in the world) and the man we knew as the “owner” or ” principal” of the Chennai Super Kings is languishing under arrest by the Mumbai Police. Three crickets of Rajasthan Royals including Test cricketer S. Sreesanth have been suspended for spot fixing. There are rumours galore everyday. Unconfirmed reports speak of the likely involvement of more teams and, of course, more players.
Yet, none of India’s cricket super stars have spoken. Not Sunil Gavaskar, not Kapil Dev, not Ravi Shastri, not Kris Srikkanth until recently the Chairman of the Selectors, not even Anil Kumble who has a magnificent reputation for his maturity and probity. For that matter, there has been no word from the “God” of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament. One would have expected him to speak about what was going on.
Are Gavaskar and Shastri forbidden by their contracts with the BCCI to speak? Is Srikkanth quiet because he is the mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad? Is Kumble not speaking because he is the mentor of the Mumbai Indians?
Admittedly, one cannot expect the same from another Member of Parliament, Md. Azharuddin, (like Sachin, Gavaskar, Shastri, Srikkanth and Kumble, a former India captain) because he was involved in match fixing in 2000 and is in no position to come down on the fixers. Ajay Jadeja, the other Indian star of those days who was involved in the match fixing issue was happily commenting as an expert on Sony Max until recently. He seems to have vanished since the day the betting news broke out. He hasn’t been seen on the program since.
We tend to blame the politicians for all that is wrong in India, including Indian cricket. However, in this case, don’t the former stars or the present ones have no role whatsoever in keeping the high standards of probity by speaking about wrong doings. Are they gagged by their contracts so much that they can’t say a word? Are they scared of getting on the wrong side of the powerful cricket establishment? Are they more concerned with their own coffers than their reputations?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know the average Indian cricket enthusiast is utterly disappointed with the so-called gods of Indian cricket. Everyone expects hell to break loose after the final of the IPL this evening. Who knows? They may all speak after everything is done and dusted.