The fixing monster has raised its head again in the Indian Premier League, with revelations in a report in this paper that a player from Rajasthan Royals was approached by a Ranji Trophy teammate to make an underhand deal. The good news is that the player immediately reported this inappropriate advance to his franchise, which promptly escalated it to the anti-corruption unit of the Indian cricket board. It is heartening, as in this episode, to see players do the right thing.
Yet the incident makes it clear that a constant vigil has to be kept over cricket, and in particular the IPL. Notably, the approach was made to the same team which was dragged over coals on the same issue just a couple of years ago. And this has come on the back of a few international players being banned from cricket and even sent to prison. If prison time and bans don’t serve as deterrents to the temptation to pocket money through illegal measures, then something is clearly wrong. Of course, cricket and betting/ fixing have a history going back to the 1880s and it’s clear that they will not go away anytime soon. The players will be constantly tested and the future of this game will depend not only on their integrity but also on the system’s potential to protect them and punish the offenders. No wonder Rahul Dravid, Rajasthan Royals’ mentor, has demanded “exemplary punishments”.
The first signs from the Indian board have been positive. BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya has promised action and secretary Anurag Thakur has said that the incident shows that the board’s efforts to get the players to report are showing results. “There’s no question of sitting idle on it. We will initiate an inquiry and the guilty will be punished. Operation clean-up tops my agenda,” Dalmiya told The Indian Express. But it would be naïve to hope that no advances will ever be made again in the future. The sharks will always be on the prowl, looking for signs of vulnerability in the players or in the system. The onus rests on all the stakeholders — players, cricket boards, anti-corruption officers — to work together in stubbing out the corrupting influences that shadow this glorious game.