Four years after submitting his findings from the 2013 IPL corruption probe to the Supreme Court, the lead investigator, senior police officer BB Misra, has said he didn’t have enough time or sufficient mandate to follow a big “fixing” lead involving a 2011 World Cup-winning superstar. Published in this paper, Misra’s revelations — he also red-flagged a notorious player-agent nexus — came close on the heels of the final SC order in this long-running court case that saw an army of BCCI old hands getting banned or disqualified and Indian cricket acquiring a radically changed constitution. These revelations question cricket’s court-monitored clean-up. In diligently sweeping the far corners of India’s humongous cricket-scape — they took months arguing about the Northeastern states’ voting rights in BCCI — the courts seem to have overlooked the pile of dirt right around the sacred space: Those 22 yards.
The cats might have been belled but an unseeing eye has been turned on the elephants in the room. By not pursuing the suspected wrong-doings of players with the same rigour as that with which they nailed board officials, the lordships may have slipped in adhering to the legal principle of equality before the law. IPL owners have been banned for speaking to bookies, but not players. A cricketer’s dalliance with a bookie — one of Misra’s main unfinished findings — isn’t a petty crime. It’s a grand theft, a global con, with more than a billion victims. But then cricketers are used to getting away. Judges, around the world, are tolerant towards cricketers. Justice MM Qayyum, who headed a similar match-fixing probe in Pakistan, allegedly went easy on Wasim Akram because of a self-confessed “soft corner” for the swing-bowling GOAT. Back home, Justice YV Chandrachud absolved every cricketer in the 1997 match-fixing scandal, only for the CBI to nail them later. Even in the present case, legal luminaries’ seeming awe of cricketers has jumped out from the pages of their reports. They have referred to them as “persons with impeccable character, integrity and honesty” — historian Ramchandra Guha, in his letter as he resigned from the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators, mentioned how the BCCI was partial towards cricketers with “superstar” status. The judiciary, too, has indulged them.
The only strong voice of reason and outrage after Misra broke his silence has been that of Justice RM Lodha. He wants the CoA-controlled BCCI to immediately order a probe. So far, the BCCI has been silent and it isn’t a surprise. As an institution, the Indian cricket board has a dubious record when it comes to cracking down on corruption. Their own anti-corruption unit chief has in the past accused the world’s richest cricket body of a cavalier attitude towards this evil. They need to shake off their lethargy and follow Misra’s lead. The fans need to know which of their World Cup heroes was in touch with betting syndicates. This is too important a tale to be reduced to a dark bedtime story Misra will tell his grandchildren.