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28 Jan 2020, Edition - 1659, Tuesday

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IPL, Spot-fixing, Sreesanth and options before him now

Karthik Veeramani

Several controversies have marred the Gentleman’s game over the years with incidents of sledging on the rise and the ICC even considering Football style Red cards and suspensions in Cricket as well. But none of these have been of the magnitude of the IPL Spot fixing and betting controversy that rocked the cricketing world in 2013.

The earliest contentious issue that one can recall is of the bet placed by former Australian Bowler Dennis Lillee and Wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh during the Australian Tour of England in 1981. They had apparently placed a 500/1 Ladbrokes bet for an England win at the Headingly Test and cashed out GBP 7500. Could they have placed an innocent bet as Punters?Even then how can the player’s place bets themselves? Or did they throw in their hat to make a quick buck? The fact remains that both Lillee and Marsh were let off lightly by the ECB and Cricket Australia. Did this inaction encourage others cricketers to fix matches? One would never know.

We would have to go back to 1994 to look into another Scandal involving Mark Waugh andLeg Spinner Shane Warne during the Australian tour of Sri Lanka. They allegedly accepted payments of $ 5000 each in exchange of information about pitch conditions. This time as well no stringent curbing measures were taken. In fact Cricket Australia knew about this only a year later and let the players off with a paltry fine.

Six years later one of the noblest sports in the planet was exposed to its dark side. Delhi police during the course of its investigation of a blacklisted bookie found out that South African Captain Hansie Cronje arguably one of the most respected and Successful Cricketers of his time threw away matches for money.What followed was a ban on cricketing greats like Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Pakistani Salim Malik. The unfolding events rattled the entire cricketing world leading to many fans temporarily unfollowing the sport. The ICC eventually was forced to set up an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to restore fans confidence.

Fast Forward to 2013, the Delhi Police in a major crackdown arrested three Cricketers, Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan on Spot fixing charges. They were all playing for the IPL side Rajasthan Royals at that time. They were charged under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act ( MCOCA) It may be noted that the Mumbai Police in a separate case arrested Vindu Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan the Son in Law of the then BCCI President N.Srinivasan.

As per the charges Sreesanth was persuaded by his friend and close ally Juju Janardhanan to concede 14+ runs in an over for an exchange of a sum of Rs.60 Lakhs in a match between Kings X! Punjab and Rajasthan Royals. Sreesanth was supposedly asked to indicate the over by tucking his hand towel and doing some stretching exercise. He is also alleged to have received an advance sum of Rs.10 Lakhs to execute the job. However the Patiala House Court in 2015 exonerated Sreesanth of all charges for lack of evidence. Subsequently he approached the BCCI to revoke the ban imposed on him which was turned down.

He then petitioned the Kerala High Court to lift the ban. In his order in early August, Justice Muhamed Mushtaq ordered the BCCI to lift the Lifetime Ban on Sreesanth. Consequently the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri appealed to the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court. The Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice Navniti Prasad Singh heard the appeal petition in detail and ruled that the court cannot conduct a Judicial Review of the Life ban imposed by the BCCI and therefore reinstated the earlier ban.

Where does this leave Sreesanth now? The Cricketer in the aftermath indicated in an interview that he wishes to play Cricket for some other country. He also come down heavily on the BCCI stating that it is was a “Private Firm “ . Theolny option left before him is to approach the Supreme Court and according to sources he is likely to appeal. He could also seek recourse with the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) which is binding on the signatories of the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards.

Looks like the BCCI have turned out to be toothless sharks in the whole process by reinstating corrupted teams back into the Indian Premier League, creating and dissolving teams to accommodate the Nefarious. “Why make Sreesanth a scapegoat and ban him for life and suspend the other corrupted teams just for 2 years” one might argue. It is not surprising that the ICC is turning a deaf ear to this, goes to show their control on the game.Why has IPL become such a tainted league?This is exactly what happens when Sports is run like an event business.

AUTHOR : Karthik Veeramani , Sports Blogger

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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