Barely a week since they walked up a public square in Melbourne to celebrate the World Cup triumph with the Australian people, smell of victory on their inebriated breath and hungover eyes hid behind sunglasses, three Australian cricketers in Steve Smith, Shane Watson and James Faulkner were in a hot stuffy room in Mumbai, at the famous CCI Club, talking about the three-letter word that holds the cricketing fraternity in thrall: IPL.
They mumbled the mundane but even they were all ears when the man sitting beside them, Rahul Dravid, spoke about fixing and gambling in IPL.
More than anyone else associated with this tournament, it’s Dravid who knows the pain of fixing. Not long ago, Dravid was caught unawares even as his team Rajasthan Royals was dragged into the mud over alleged spot-fixing by some of its players and gambling by its owners.
Couple of years ago, Dravid would have probably just said it all lies with the integrity of players and it’s up to them not to fall for temptations, but having seen what he has in the last year or two, his tune has changed. Now he wants it to be seen as grave criminal offense and wants the punishment to be severe enough to act as deterrent. Yes, the final act of restraint is with the players but pile up the punishment to scare the elements involved, is his plea now.
“There should be consequences when people make mistakes and are proven guilty,” Dravid said. “For anything like robbery, theft and cheating there are laws and strict consequences. Those consequences need to happen from lawmakers. You need to go into areas of (these things) almost to be treated as a criminal offense. That’s my belief.”
Sitting at the far corner, Smith, who seemed rather lost during the rest of the press interaction, looked up at Dravid. Ditto Watson, Faulkner and Ajinkya Rahane. In an otherwise gentle, light-hearted interaction, Dravid’s gravitas on the issue stood out.
Three Royals players, including Test cricketer S Sreesanth, were found guilty of spot fixing and sentenced to prison in 2013. The scandal also saw the Supreme Court get involved and force the then board president and Chennai Super kings team owner N Srinivasan to step down from his role after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was found guilty of cricket betting.
“One of the most important things is that we need to have stricter laws that deal with issues like match fixing, spot fixing. And we need to have those laws in place that in the long term act as a deterrent,” Dravid continued. “There are consequences in cricket (for wrong doing) and you pay the price.”
However, Dravid also pointed out that it wasn’t just during IPL that one needs to be wary but it’s something to always watch out for. “There have been some unfortunate incidents relating to IPL. But there have been such incidents in cricket as a whole and IPL cannot be seen in isolation.
“IPL attracts a lot of hype, media attention and wrong elements as well. We have to be vigilant at all times. We have the system, the education programme and everyone is making an effort. We have to recognise that there are undesirable elements who want to come into the game. One of the important things Is that IPL is just for two months and at other times the players are away from franchises. Things like education and vigilance need to be followed by not only IPL but others too.”
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