The man you see smiling pretty often these days on your TV screens and addressing the media with relish is none other than Jagmohan Dalmiya. Arguably one of India’s most seasoned cricket administrators, Dalmiya is in charge of the BCCI after N. Srinivasan side- stepped last Sunday in Chennai.
Indeed, these are bad times for Indian cricket, though on- field, M. S. Dhoni and his boys have made a great start in the Champions Trophy.
We have seen in recent weeks how people who are supposed to be symbols of cricket have actually turned out to be the villains.
You and I know the laws to deal with betting in India are archaic and as far as fixing laws go, there are none in place. What is even more sad is that chances of someone doing the hard work at home to get tougher laws in place seems remote at this point of time.
It was good to see the Delhi Police again doing the hard work and grilling Raj Kundra of Rajasthan Royals for his alleged role in betting.
If memory serves me right, when news of dirt in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League broke out, Kundra’s wife Shilpa Shetty tweeted: “ RR is a team that Fights with integrity, Rahul being a front runner.. Sad this has happened so close to the Playoffs.
This too shall pass.” After her husband was grilled by police, she said there was a need to get to the bottom of spot- fixing, though she made no mention of betting. While the Mumbai Police is dealing with Dara Singh’s son Vindoo and Srinivasan’s son- in- law Meiyappan Gurunath — both now out on bail — their troubles are not over.
In Delhi, after Kundra was questioned for long hours last week, he and Shilpa have been appreciative of the Delhi Police on Twitter . What riles me at this point of time is how Rajasthan Royals sent out a press release to say that Kundra is not a majority stakeholder in the franchise.
It really does not matter whether Raj Kundra is a major stakeholder or minor. We have seen over the years how he and wife Shilpa are the face of the team, be it at the auction, or when they are celebrating at the stadiums.
Whether or not they have a majority stake means nothing to the cricket lover. In fact, Kundra and Shilpa are bigger faces of Rajasthan Royals than skipper Rahul Dravid.
The dirt in the IPL has come out with full force so all those associated with any illegal activity need to be dealt with sternly.
Today, the word betting has become scary but let’s be honest, even the average man on the street while discussing cricket says: “ You want to bet? Tonight my team is going to win.” Conversation of this type may be trivial but be sure in most cases someone is talking about a bet as small as ` 100 or many more zeroes added to it.
It is unacceptable that anyone associated with an IPL franchise, — be it a player, coach, manager, masseur, official or even scorer — talks of betting.
Kundra has admitted he did bet which means he has been indulging in activity which is shameful for someone involved with the running of an IPL team.
Without wasting time, the team management must dump him. To my mind, the issue does not end there. Dumping Kundra does not mean the team becomes clean as the dirt tag will not go away so easily.
The same applies to Gurunath, who is now out on bail as the image of Chennai Super Kings has taken a huge beating.
We all know it will take a long time for the legal process to be completed in India and offenders dealt with suitably.
This is the time Dalmiya needs to show serious intent in cleaning up cricket at home. Be it broomsticks or employing any other means, the muck has to be removed in whatever human form it exists.
It was during Dalmiya’s stint as International Cricket Council ( ICC) president ( 1997 to 2000) that the match- fixing scandal broke out in India. At that time as well, it was Delhi Police commissioner K. K. Paul who did commendable work when he shocked the cricket world by mentioning the name of South African captain Hansie Cronje.
While Delhi Police is on the job now with commissioner Neeraj Kumar at the helm, we hope Dalmiya will deal with all the offenders sternly. I know, it will not be easy as corruption has permeated the IPL through several layers and there will be stiff resistance.
I had written about the IPL as a breeding ground for talent but sadly now any mention of India’s T20 club cricket makes one squirm.
Hard decisions will have to be taken if the credibility of the IPL can ever be restored. Tainted men like Gurunath and Kundra have to be removed and if it means the teams have to be scrapped, so be it.
Dalmiya failed to play a proactive role in 2000 but 13 years hence as the man in charge of Indian cricket, he has a chance to make amends. Today, the ills in IPL are as dangerous as cancer.
So Mr Dalmiya, if it calls for surgery please do it.