The sting,Im afraid,was tame and misleading. There were some issues there that deserved airing,but they were concealed by theatrical,incessant self-promotion. Cricket needs to be careful of those that write film style dialogues and those that over-dramatise it.
And so,in a typically Pavolovian response,far too many people are screaming match-fixing. Or its cousin,spot fixing. The greater issue in this sting,if you were patient enough to get there,was the feeling that many players get paid more than they are entitled to. And,that because there is a ceiling on how much uncapped domestic players can earn,there is some naughty money transfer going on.
It is a practice that has been whispered about,occasionally loudly talked about,for a long time now; especially in the days before IPL 4. With a limited number of capped Indian players in the auction,there was a rush to find the best of the rest,and strictly speaking,if one franchise couldnt pay more than another,very few players had strong enough reasons to move. But then,there are many things that are whispered on the circuit,and because something is whispered about,it need not necessarily be true but more important,it cannot be proved to be true.
And so the issue of being paid more than the contracted amount remained a whisper. Now players are saying it happens. The BCCI can look at it two ways. They can disbelieve the players or accept what they are saying and launch a serious investigation (which they have done but I am unaware of its scope) though it is very unlikely they wouldnt have known about it in the first place.
But it will be unfortunate if only the players are investigated because you cannot accept money unless someone offers it. If the players are saying they were offered money that couldnt be accounted for,then it means the franchises were violating IPL rules too. If players are to be punished for accepting money they shouldnt have from franchises,then the franchises should be punished too. In his judgement in 2010,on the Ravi Jadeja case,Arun Jaitley had suggested that,and I think his legal acumen and stature can be used to strengthen procedures in the IPL.
Eventually,this league belongs as much to the BCCI as to the franchise holders,and if it has to become one of the great sports leagues in the world (and it should not consider a smaller objective),they need to work together to strengthen it. And so,this cannot be buried,it has to be taken as seriously as a corporation would a whistleblower.
The IPL has exploded and to be fair,the basic principle behind its founding was fair: that each franchise has equal resources available to it and so has an equal chance of winning it. If transfer of uncapped players favours richer franchises,then the principle on which the IPL was conceived is threatened. And so,to take it to the next stage,it needs stronger processes but it needs more openness for the more transparent an organisation is,the less it can hide wrongdoing. It is also something the fans are entitled to because without them there is no revenue.
Now to the other danger that too was known but which the sting has highlighted. Indian cricket,like the Mumbai film industry,lures many towards it; some come with the dream of making it big and playing for India for ten or fifteen years,some others quickly fall away and seek every opportunity to make a buck in the time they have. It is not wrong but it exposes them to all manner of people. As there are fine and respectable people,there are maggots too,who prey on the insecurity of young cricketers and lure them onto the path that can only lead to fixing and other crimes. And match-fixing,or spot-fixing,remains the single greatest threat to the continued success of the IPL. This sting,if ethically edited,confirms that day might already be upon us.
The people who carried out that sting exploited this vulnerability among young cricketers. The only way to protect them from more such vultures is to educate them and provide harsh deterrents. Ironically though,such stings seem to have become the only way of exposing loopholes. Maybe a law passed by the government making match-fixing a criminal offence will help.
In many industries,corporations are free to run their business as they want but are answerable to a higher entity. For its own good,the IPL needs to have a higher entity that seeks no political or monetary gain,to question its functioning. This entity could be self-appointed and there are many champions of corporate governance with a track record of integrity who will be happy to serve on it. It will become a stronger,more rigorous organisation and,in becoming so,will benefit Indian cricket enormously.