Give us our clean game back, please

The Supreme Court’s views on the two reports of the Justice Mudgal IPL Probe Committee submitted on Monday will determine how serious the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will get about cleaning up its own stables. The Committee’s reports are quite damning and call for far-reaching changes in the BCCI’s attitude.

Of course, the BCCI must be squirming at the Mudgal Committee’s decision to release its reports in public domain and Justice Mukul Mudgal’s decision to speak to the media about its contents even before the Supreme Court may have had a chance to read the documents and the sealed envelope that may be a veritable tinder box in itself.

Come to think of it, when the BCCI filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court ruling that the Commission of Inquiry it instituted to look into the charges of betting against Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, it would not have anticipated the formation of the Mudgal Commission.

Today, the BCCI could well be ruing its decision to ignore IPL governing council member Niranjan Shah’s advice to form another panel after Bombay High Court order against the two-member commission’s legality. That panel may not have made adverse comments on a subject like conflict of interest.

Often in the past, the BCCI has managed to wriggle out by striking a compromise with its adversary just to ensure that the Supreme Court does not pass a judgement. The 1989 case when some players were banned and the more recent Conflict of Interest case filed by former Board president AC Muthiah are two such examples.

Will we see a similar story now?

Going beyond the ‘cricket enthusiast’ explanation that board president N Srinivasan offered in defence of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s presence in the Chennai Super Kings auction table and dug out, there are some more startling statements made before the
Mudgal Committee.

None is more damning than the one by IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman. He told the Committee that the ownership structures of teams are, in general, ambiguous. He also admitted that the IPL governing council had not made any effort to determine who the ultimate owners of the franchisees were.

The least the BCCI can do now is clean its stables.

Sundar Raman has also told the Committee that ICC ACSU Chief YP Singh had verbally informed him that there were reports alleging that a number of owners/team officials were betting on IPL matches. YP Singh apparently also said there was no actionable information.

Of course, the board/IPL does not have the statutory powers to unravel actionable information but the least it could have done was to share YP Singh’s information with all IPL team owners/officials and warn them against sullying the image of the game and reminding them of grim consequences. Apparently, BCCI/IPL let that chance go.

The other startling issue that strikes me is the undue haste with which Delhi Police transferred its investigation into charges against Raj Kundra to Rajasthan Police. The then Commissioner of Delhi Police Neeraj Kumar has argued that since the betting took place in Jaipur, the case was transferred for Rajasthan Police to probe the matter.

Curiously, such logic did not apply when it came to the players concerned.

The BCCI and the investigating agencies, when they are afforded a chance by errant players and team officials, can come together and ensure that as fans we are given our clean game back. This is the least that they can do so that the fans faith that the sport they follow is as clean as it can be is restored.