Sport

Who watches cricket’s watchmen?

By Antoinette Muller 1 August 2013

Throughout the ongoing IPL fixing scandal, the International Cricket Council has remained mum. They’ve not even tried to intervene with the Board of Control for Cricket in India – although it is clearly desperate for assistance, or at least for somebody to put it in its place. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

There’s a lot going on in world cricket at the moment. There’s much happening on the field of play, but there is also a heck of a lot happening off the field. All these happenings are serious issues which impact on the game and its well-being, as well as the way it is run: allegations of match-fixing, as well as the BCCI trying to sweep dirty rumours under the rug.

On Tuesday, the Delhi police filed a 6,000-page charge sheet relating to the Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal. The charge sheet names 39 people, including three cricketers, two wanted gangsters and a number of bookmakers. The charge sheet was filed under a tough law pertaining to organised crime and the investigation has turned from pre-trial to judicial.

According to the law, the charge sheet will now be assessed and it will be decided whether there is prima facie evidence against those accused. Should it be so, it will become a State-versus-XYZ case. The police have done well. It took them over a decade to file a charge sheet against Hansie Cronje. Their response in this case has been far more efficient.

But what of those whose employees who find themselves in the soup?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) conducted their own “investigation”, made up of a two-member committee. The committee met on Sunday and cleared Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, the Rajasthan Royals franchise, and India Cements, the owner of Chennai Super Kings, of “any wrongdoing”. How a two-member committee could clear charges while police were still investigating is something you may well query. A Bombay High Court has since ruled that “the entire incident needs to be reinvestigated. There was disparity in the evidence collected by the probe panel.” Understatement of the year, perhaps?

It’s an issue which has dragged on and on, and which will continue to drag on until it reaches the court – and the guilt of those accused is either proved or disproved. However long it takes, one only hopes that the punishment will fit the crime.

During the whole saga, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has kept entirely mum. It would be wrong for them to intervene and take over, as the alleged incidents happened under the BCCI’s jurisdiction. But, according to the mission statement on the ICC’s website, it will:

  • Provide a world class environment for international cricket
  • Deliver ‘major’ events across three formats
  • Provide targeted support to members
  • Promote the global game

With regards to the fixing scandal in which the BCCI finds itself, the ICC has not lived up to some of its goals. “Targeted support to members” is a stated pretty clearly, and the BCCI is clearly in need of support.

India’s governing body has gone beyond parody, and considering the talented cricketers that lurk in its midst, it’s a damn shame. The ICC has not as much as even issued a press release on the state of affairs. Perhaps that’s because not even the ICC knows what is going on. But the BCCI needs to be helped, because it clearly cannot help itself.

Would it not be up to the ICC to provide an independent investigate committee to look at the findings and present those findings to the BCCI and the ICC?

Across the pond, in England, a British newspaper ran a report which, at the moment, seems to be little more than hot air. Allegedly, the series will be investigated by the ICC’s anti-corruption wing due to irregular betting patterns. The paper made some staggering claims, but the ICC has not confirmed or denied whether these are true. If the series is indeed to be investigated, it is in the public’s interest to know.

Cricket, arguably more than some sports, begs for its governing body to meddle more with issues. The ICC will trumpet the importance of Test cricket, insist that it’s working on a way to get DRS to work for everyone and release wonderful mobile apps for everyone to keep an eye on the global rankings. It will arrange committee meetings where issues are put forward by representatives, some of whom were voted into power in a peculiar fashion, and a whole lot of other window dressing. What the sport’s governing body has very rarely done in recent times, however, is speak out publicly on real issues.

It’s the ICC’s job to ensure that its house is in order. Only its house is pretty big and spans across a number of continents. It should be a parental figure, one who wags fingers and sends those who have misbehaved for punishment. The ICC has not done that. The worst part about the ICC failing is that there is nobody above the ICC to take it to task. When a government fails, the public will often revolt.

In cricket, there is no such luxury. Nobody watches cricket’s watchmen, and that it’s accepted as such is a crying shame. DM

Photo: Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and husband Raj Kundra (R) arrive on the green carpet during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Toronto June 25, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

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