Cricketers innocent unless proven guilty
Indian players may have been more fortunate than some of their Pakistani counterparts
Stranger things have happened in the world of cricket. This exoneration of Sreesanth and company is, however, good news for the players concerned. However mired the game itself may be in shady activities inspired by the betting mafia, the least the board can do for those absolved of crimes is to reinstate them in the hope that further complications may not arise to change the scenario altogether once again.
Indian players may have been more fortunate than some of their Pakistani counterparts. There are very few stringent provisions in Indian law to tackle spot or match-fixing and betting is a kind of petty offence reserved for those found playing cards under a mango tree at lunch hour. What the law book says has to be respected, so too verdicts of the learned judges.
There may, however, be many more legal episodes to come. Where the BCCI erred all along is in not showing any alacrity in acting against officials and team principals betting about which there are specific and stringent rules in the IPL handbook. The BCCI, however, took lightning action against players around whom there was even a whiff of a betting or fixing scandal. The discrimination was so blatant no one grieved when the team owners were hauled over the coals by Messrs Mudgal and Lodha.
A lot more of drama remains, what with Justice Lodha’s powerful committee set to rule on so many matters, including the fate of IPL’s COO as well as on the constitution of the BCCI, which assignment might yet be the most difficult the three retired judges are tasked with. The veil of secrecy has to be lifted and the board put under some regulatory procedures with regard to how it spends its money and how it must not allow its election procedures to be manipulated to allow cabals to operate.
There is less to be said about the players now since most of them stand cleared legally. It might be a bit of a stretch to believe such a big illegal betting market controlled by no less than the D-company could have operated without links to the players. Had he been living in India, Hansie Cronje would have been innocent too. The poor guy had to testify under oath before the King Commission in South Africa.
A leading investigator of the first great betting scam in Indian cricket let me in on a little secret. He said in his experience Indians were not necessarily truthful even under oath, which is why establishing guilt in courts of law was such a huge challenge to the law enforcers. Of course, Cronje was of a different nationality and in any case he had spilled the beans when that father figure of a man in South African cricket, Dr Ali Bacher, had confronted him after news of the scandal was first broken by the Delhi police.
The scene could not have been happier for Sreesanth though. We might yet see his curving away swinger trumping a few batsmen in the game if the BCCI heeds his plea for reinstatement despite having spontaneously decided that the life bans would stay after the favourable verdicts had been handed down in the Delhi trial court. The legal issues are far too complex but then the beauty is we do not have to worry overly about them since the board will anyway be burning up a few more crores to keep their favourite cloaked men in clover and the learned judges busy adjudicating on cricket.
The simple truth is the players are now innocent unless they are proved guilty in higher courts and we would rather let them get back to doing what they do best — play cricket. The saving grace is at least now the players would have learnt their lessons not to dabble with those elements that operate from beyond the boundary.
This is a hope that springs eternal in the minds of cricket lovers no matter how many times betting scandals crop up and threaten to destroy the image of the game and its players forever.
( Source : deccan chronicle )