The latest blow to the IPL came in the form of a press release,one generated from the ICC headquarters in Dubai. In the wake of reports that the Mumbai Police are conducting an investigation into Asad Raufs activities,he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy, it said. After players and a team owner,an international umpire too had joined the tainted list of this forgettable IPL season.
But a brief flashback can help one understand ICCs proactive stance better and,maybe,figure out the possible greater power-game that was being played in the background of this scandal.
Media reports,to which the ICC didnt react,have suggested the involvement of a Pakistani umpire in the fix-mix,but he went unnamed. Besides,the Mumbai police didnt once mention Asad Rauf in their press conferences. Nor did the ICCs anti-corruption unit nail him.
So why then was the official,who last year survived a well-documented scandal involving a shady starlet,get dropped from the Champions Trophy panel because of unconfirmed media reports? Unless the ICC know what we dont an inside account of Raufs wrongdoings from the Mumbai police,turning their backs on their elite umpire might be a case of jumping the gun or merely a game of one-upmanship.
Consider the sequence of events before this unusual ICC move that further maligns the credibility of BCCIs flagship T20 league. It started with reports of BCCI flexing their muscle and L Sivaramakrishnan replacing Tim May (the former Aussie off-spinner who is a long-standing FICA chief and certainly BCCIs least favourite international cricketer) as the players representative on the ICC cricket committee. May complained to the ICC,and the world body barked in a press release that it was considering to refer the matter to the ethics committee. Perturbed,BCCI even threatened to pull out from the upcoming Champions Trophy. But very soon,better sense prevailed and the big battle was postponed for another day.
With the Indian board on the backfoot and its chiefs (N Srinivasan) son-in-law named in the spot-fixing probe,the ICC struck out Raufs name. While such moves to sanitise the game are always welcome,perhaps they could have waited for the facts on the umpire to emerge,considering the Champions Trophy is still a whole fortnight away.
(Sandeep is the National Sports Editor,based in New Delhi)