The leadership shake-up of the Indian Premier League might have been a necessary condition for the launch of a cleanup of Indian cricket's most spectacular and cash-rich show. But the suspension of IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi by the Board of Control for Cricket in India invoking its special powers over its sub-committee can only be a first step in restoring the credibility of the IPL — by bringing honesty, accountability, and transparency to the conduct of an innovative tournament that can, aside from entertaining millions of fans, be a promoter of good social causes. In the context of the allegations and counter-allegations that have rocked the league, portraying one man as The Villain and the other members of the governing council as helpless bystanders or dupes does not seem very convincing. The real challenge before the BCCI is to cleanse the IPL of bid rigging, insider trading, dirty money, and conflicts of interest. To start with, the Board should resist the temptation of seeking the government's support in overcoming the crisis, essentially by crucifying Mr. Modi. Over the years, cricket administration in India has been politicised in a big way, with a wide spectrum of party leaders holding elected leadership positions in the BCCI or in State cricket associations. A Minister of the United Progressive Alliance government has been implicated in the scandal surrounding the Kochi franchise and there are allegations against some others that have been denied. Political considerations and vendettas must not be allowed to mar the investigations into the opaque activities of the IPL. With Mr. Modi out of the way, pending the conclusion of a probe into his role, the BCCI cannot pretend that all is basically well with the IPL.
The surprise is that in the midst of all this, the IPL tournament went on merrily — turning out to be a huge success organisationally, as an extravaganza, and in terms of the cricket on offer for millions of fans in India and abroad. At the end of six weeks of pulsating action, the tournament threw up a new champion in Chennai Super Kings. After starting slowly, and contributing greatly, through good performance and bad, to the excitement of the race for the semi-final berths, the Chennai team finished the tournament brilliantly, prevailing over the runaway pre-final favourite, Mumbai Indians. The losing finalist in the first edition and a semi-finalist in the second, CSK was ‘third time lucky' but deservingly so. Fittingly, the Chennai team, led by Indian captain M.S. Dhoni, walked away with the fair play award. The IPL can learn a lot from its champion team, especially the importance of being successful, and clean and fair at the same time. Cricket administrators must not fail the IPL, its upstanding cricketers, and its exploding number of fans.