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Time to clean up Indian cricket?

Soutik Biswas | 18:40 UK time, Friday, 16 April 2010

IPL match In its third season, the Indian Premier League is a smash hit on the field. Off the field, the credibility of this tournament is taking a drubbing.

The ongoing row between high-profile minister, Shashi Tharoor, and the brash and flamboyant chief of the IPL, Lalit Modi, is threatening to open a can of worms and give a bad name to the way cricket is run in India.

The row could now represent Indian cricket's darkest moment since the match-fixing scandal in the 1990s. It's a dismal drama with allegations of bribery, intimidation, shadowy dealings, opaque financial disclosures, and alleged favours to a businesswoman, well-known to the minister. The cast has now extended to include a whole bunch of obscure IPL team owners, a senior federal minister and a controversial chief minister. All sides have denied the charges flung at them.

Do cricket fans really care about this unsavoury row? It is difficult to say - as the third IPL season draws to a close, the grounds remain full and the cricket also remains largely crowd-pleasing. But then Indians don't lose their faith in cricket so easily. Remember the match-fixing scandal which led to the banning of several senior cricketers, including a former captain? The crowds returned to the grounds quickly to worship their gods, and Indian cricket, under a new captain, actually emerged cleaner and stronger after the crisis. The game is resilient, and the fans will stand by it.

But the latest controversy once again puts a spotlight on how cricket is run in India. Outlook magazine editor and cricket lover Vinod Mehta says that the IPL row smacks of a "culture of sleaze that the event has spawned". His magazine broke the match-fixing story.

The bigger question is one of transparency and probity. A tournament which is India's showcase to the world cannot be allowed to sink under allegations of corruption and grimy business dealings. Indian cricket runs world cricket - 70% of the world's cricket revenues are from here. IPL was initiated by the Indian cricket board. This controversy raises questions about the governance of cricket in India - and the way the game is being controlled by politicians who have wrested control of its state cricket boards and their links with businessmen.

"If IPL turns out to be a bag of sleaze, it will be a big blow to India's image," says sports journalist Mihir Bose. I couldn't agree more. Sure, wounded fans will return to the grounds, but the damage to India's image will be grievous. Many commentators agree that Indian cricket needs more transparency and a strong, independent regulator. The way to start is at the top and make the cricket board's books and dealings open to the public. The same applies to the ownership of the IPL teams. This will prove to the world that not only do we play and love cricket intensely, but we can run it well too.

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:04pm on 16 Apr 2010, Ananya78 wrote:

    The IPL controversy is really shocking. It is indeed, as Soutik says, a can of worms. We cricket fans should be grateful that no players name has come up in the controversy. Already there are hushed whispers about matches being fixed, which I hope are all untrue. But if Indian cricket is not cleaned up, the day will be not far when IPL matches will also be fixed. That will be the end of cricket as we know it.

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  • 2. At 7:21pm on 16 Apr 2010, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Soutik:

    If there is any wrongdoing in Indian Cricket, then it should be clean-up with quick and effective rules and promptly!

    (D)

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  • 3. At 9:11pm on 16 Apr 2010, Shilpy wrote:

    how any one can bring himself to be a cricket fan is beyond me. india would be better served if it were to gift away all its crcket gear back to britain.

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  • 4. At 09:00am on 17 Apr 2010, arbj wrote:

    @ shilpy...

    quite true...

    then we go back to traditional games like 'kabbadi' and 'gili danda'

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  • 5. At 10:52am on 17 Apr 2010, BakedBeans wrote:

    Half baked 'jump on the bandwagon' cut copy paste article.

    There are no better cricket adminstrator than lalit modi.Many cricket adminstrators can never come close to him.

    The politicians ,economists, other cricket boards,press and especially English press are jealous of Lalit Modi and his achievement.

    Who made google deal ?which enabled cricket lovers across the global to cricket ?

    Instead of appreciating Lalit modi for exposing congress Minister who has given away 70 crores to his spa owner friend whom he is going to marry for 3rd time soutik tells us something else...

    Modi's are nightmare for the Congress.

    what happened to county cricket spot fixing probe ? Under the carpet ?

    >>>MAny commentators

    who are these commentators ? Name please ? need to check their hidden agenda ....

    >>regulators

    Why Boris Jhonson is against fin regulators in city ? There must be some reason for it .Can apply same logic to Indian cricket please ?

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  • 6. At 1:22pm on 17 Apr 2010, BakedBeans wrote:

    where is the ipl scoreboard in bbc ? when they have tons of ipl article ?

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  • 7. At 5:31pm on 17 Apr 2010, Wozzi7 wrote:

    arbj -
    I would say scrap cricket and play soccer/football instead. Maybe rugby, American football, basketball. And yeah, even "kabbadi" at a professional level would more entertaining than cricket or gilli danda.

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  • 8. At 8:46pm on 17 Apr 2010, ProMal wrote:

    Cricket's a great game: people like Wozzi7 and Shilpy just have to deal with that. But this is not a forum to argue about its greatness. It is also clear that Lalit Modi is a crook (you look at him and you know); he's singularly one of the most disgusting people one can ever happen to know; BakedBeans should deal with that! Cricket is great, IPL is fun, Lalit Modi has to go! He will go once the bribery charges against him are proved, and believe me, they will be. Eventually Sharad Pawar is Modi's boss and as a Federal Minister and head of BCCI and soon the ICC and a colleague of Shashi Tharoor, I find it hard seeing how Modi can extricate himself from this one. For the sake of Indian cricket, I hope he goes, sooner the better.

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  • 9. At 10:00pm on 17 Apr 2010, ravi metta wrote:

    Time for Jelous BBC to enjoy now. Now one comes close to Lalit modi, he has elevated the brand India to new level. Indian congress goverment is nothing but puppets of british. BBC can u also cover IPL scores aswell insted of all negitive propaganda.

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  • 10. At 07:16am on 18 Apr 2010, ballal wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 12:21pm on 18 Apr 2010, hindi news wrote:

    IPL is like now indian paisa league where what happan in out side we can see but what happan inside they dnt seee.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 12. At 3:38pm on 18 Apr 2010, syed wrote:

    The IPL has a chief who is a criminal convicted for drugs in USA not long ago. I cant understand the morality he has to hold such a post, as well involve himself in 3 IPL franchisees. Its like 'who will fence the cat'? Besides IPL & BCCI has more funds than anyother sporting organisation in the world. The government should charge both IPL & BCCI for the security and other facilities it provides rather than spending precious public funds.

    BCCI (board for control for cricket in India)is no different from IPL. It has many present and past heads of corruption. Slush money,nexus with underworld & politics make up a deadly cocktail for cricket in India. Its regretting to see that people in India passionately follow a game which has nothing but entertainment & betting. It has no morality nor passion. I wish the same passion is shown to other sports events.

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  • 13. At 03:05am on 19 Apr 2010, Prashanth wrote:

    Its really pathetic...
    Crores of money to bid teams... so many poor people need money to survive on other hand.
    This event clearly depicts us that Indian Cricket Board has no power and authority.Real value of cricket is no more.Politicians are in great form.
    As mentioned by many friends,Everyone wonders why still people hang on with this game..on the other hand shame to say our national game hockey which is in state of extinct.No words to explain.But one thing i can say..Every one's heart will burn to see India corrupted to such an extent.hard workers keep working... corruption keeps ruling..

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  • 14. At 07:29am on 19 Apr 2010, jet225 wrote:

    Just as we read this article, Modi has brought down Tharoor. Good stuff this. IPL is hot n spicy even off the field. Eagerly anticipating Congress's revenge on Modi.

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  • 15. At 08:53am on 19 Apr 2010, Ananya78 wrote:

    The way the corruption in the IPL is unravelling should silence ill-informed and jingoistic people who were saying people that there was nothing wrong in the way it was being marketed, sold and promoted. Now the income tax department is investigating the finances, and soon Mr Lalit Modi might be pushed out of the tournament. It is amazing how Indians, blinded by jingoist frenzy, actually collude and support such wrong doing, as many respondents here have. As Indians, we should hang our heads in shame. But such ignorant jingoists are, thankfully, still a minority whose only work is to send hate mail to journalists and writers who are exposing the wrongdoings in IPL.

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  • 16. At 09:08am on 19 Apr 2010, jet225 wrote:

    So what if there is black money (money laundering) involved in IPL. Usually this kind of money is kept locked up in Offshore, Swiss accounts. Atleast through the IPL, the money is coming into circulation. This black money is actually providing thousands of people good paying jobs, which the Government is incapable of. This is just how we roll in India.
    Actually this reminds me of the old Times of India ad with the fake 100 rupee note that goes into circulation and comes full circle.

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  • 17. At 10:26am on 19 Apr 2010, syed wrote:

    Just wanted to add further details to my previous comments. The present congrees government has tainted coalition partners, who are cabinet ministers. They also occupy prominent position in the BCCI (board for cricket control in India). Shashi Tharoor is just another person, who dont fit into the gutters of India's politics.

    Will the BJP shut up and watch their own backyard before crying foul to others. They have long history of corruption and nepotism. Besides, IPL chief himself is a recruit of BJP and was running a shadow government, when BJP ruled the state of Rajasthan. Sharad Pawar is another tainted politician whose name figures in the stamp paper scam. Misusuing the government infrastructure, concessions to the cricket associations & their assets is totally unacceptable and unethical. Let the government think on this.

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  • 18. At 10:55am on 19 Apr 2010, hainba wrote:

    Quote: Indian cricket runs world cricket - 70% of the world's cricket revenues are from here.

    Soutik in revenue terms and current focus this maybe true BUT if the IPL came crashing down world cricket would go on. This is a local issue, Even the Indian national team would be relatively untainted unless they are found to be involved in further match fixing or money laundering.

    Current players would just have to go back to their home contracts and the retired players tout themselves to the other domestic T20's that may have less financial backing and indian glamour but a more solid base.

    Cricket would just move on but hopefully a balanced perspective will return instead of this media driven circus.

    Remember Packer?

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  • 19. At 11:03am on 19 Apr 2010, akaTommySmith wrote:

    Agree with #5 - this is a half-baked article.

    There is no explanation/ information about what has actually been going on regarding the new franchise/ dispute between Modi and Tharoor.

    And there is no ANALYSIS/ any fresh angle on it.

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  • 20. At 11:34am on 19 Apr 2010, BakedBeans wrote:

    still same old stuff from comments section also ....

    >>>Tharoor is just another person, who dont fit into the gutters of India's politics.

    he is gone why ? he is a pirate in suits with american accent....

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  • 21. At 1:40pm on 19 Apr 2010, Jay wrote:

    Just like majority of Indian products/brands and political leaders, IPL also seem to be deteriorating in quality after successful initial start. Fate of any aspect of life including games and sports, public governance or education and research, is and will not be much different unless the basic issue of accountability and transparency is introduced and ruthlessly implemented. THERE ARE TOO MANY VULTURES FOR TOO FEW CARCASSES. That’s why we do not think much before we kill even few remaining the golden gooses. We have very limited aspect of society that we can be proud of and yet we are destroying those with impunity.

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  • 22. At 2:16pm on 19 Apr 2010, Indian youth wrote:

    What happened Mr Biswas you were stating that the IPL is not earning revenues as stated and even questioning the business acumen of Sahara India,Mr Ambani etc and misquoting the revenue figures from youtube and others.(Credibility-never in a BBC reporter on India).Suddenly what prompted you to change now.You have stated that India has 300 million mobile phones in a recent post when actually there are more than 545 million phones(recent UN report).I was wondering why was a BBC reporter has to go to such lengths in spreading lies.Simple - Britain cant stand the fact that India is the fourth largest economy(in PPP) far exceeding UK.Since they cannot stand such fact they will try to misquote figures just to keep their population misinformed.No wonder BBC is treated with disdain in India.

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  • 23. At 10:34am on 20 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    India should stop playing cricket and should start playing football...

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  • 24. At 07:49am on 21 Apr 2010, kp vidyashankar wrote:

    The best part of IPL will always be.. The FAKEIPL player blog.. Frankly I watch cricket b'cos of IPL. IPL is palatable compared to 'shudder, shudder' tests and ODIs. Without Modi, innovation will be dead, unless Mallya and other owners put some of their charming CEOs. Joke is .. one side a corrupt IT officer accepting bribe is reported.. and other side raids, searches etc on Modi. I'll take a bet, only minor financial irregularities will be thrown up, greeted with whoops by a biased media and ECB will be hoping to win back cricket to Britain. With IPL, we have now 'Indians' like Hayden, Gilchrist, Warney, Watson, Symmo etc. The true treasures of international cricket are coming home to the place where they are revered, that is INDIA. If I, a cricket hater, has become a fan of IPL, it is thanx to Modi.

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  • 25. At 10:15am on 21 Apr 2010, Federer=Elegance wrote:

    3. At 9:11pm on 16 Apr 2010, Shilpy wrote:
    how any one can bring himself to be a cricket fan is beyond me. india would be better served if it were to gift away all its crcket gear back to britain
    ====================

    What a great Idea !! and maybe Britain can give us back all the exploits they had over those 2 centuries.

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  • 26. At 12:28pm on 25 Apr 2010, Ankiet wrote:

    To clean this whole mess should need four steps to take. First, take resignation of Mr.Modi and investigation their finance n money transaction n their shares participation in IPL teams. Second, investigate Indian minister’s role n their finance. And third, BCCI and IPL will not get any tax free befits, and last, BCCI/IPL come under RTI act o f India.

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  • 27. At 05:31am on 26 Apr 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    Er, with so much money floating around the IPL it's not really surprising there's also corruption.

    A season in SA, bomb blasts and corruption.....not great.

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  • 28. At 1:24pm on 26 Apr 2010, olivia wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 29. At 9:13pm on 09 May 2010, thepastymuncher wrote:

    Rules are rules - if there is ambiguity then you cannot be guilty of breaking the rules.

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