Sport mirrors the society we live in. The return of the stench of corruption in cricket in the form of match- and spot-fixing scandals in official premier leagues held in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is emblematic of a nation in which graft is endemic. How rotten the system has become can be gleaned from there being some basis to the rumour that a cricket bookmaker owns a premier league team in Tamil Nadu through benamis. Coaches and players are suspected to have been involved once again in skullduggery even as teams are said to be tanking matches to get illegal gratification from shadowy figures from Kolkata and Jaipur.
Surprisingly, women cricketers have also been approached to be part of the information-sharing shenanigans of gamblers and high rollers who have brought a bad name to cricket.
Gone are the days when cricket was considered a metaphor for fair play. A wave of scandals in the 1990s beginning in Pakistan forced the authorities to attempt a cleanup and at least three captains, including an Indian, fell by the wayside as skeletons came tumbling out in probes. The strategy of ring-fencing the cricketers after holding awareness programmes and creating avenues for reporting approaches by fixers was paying dividend until human greed showed it is a force which cannot be reined in.
Many of those tasked with keeping cricket clean in the last 20 years have expressed their helplessness in curbing malpractices and keep calling for sports betting to be legalised in India, as if that would solve the problem of fixing. It is clear that Indian cricket, much like Indian society, has come to not only tolerate but also accept corruption as a way of life. That is a pity.