Cricket in India stands on the edge of a precipice and if it is to be saved, the men who have allowed the game to be placed in mortal danger must take responsibility for their acts of omission and commission. What began as a betting and spot-fixing scandal involving three players in one Indian Premier League team now seems to have drawn in team owners, and the man at the very top of cricket administration in India. N. Srinivasan is both the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and owner of Chennai Super Kings and he is in the dock today for the way he has run both enterprises. His son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, who was also Team Principal of the Chennai Super Kings, has now been arrested by the Mumbai police. He is being investigated for his contacts with an actor who served as a conduit for bookies. The manner in which a blatant falsehood is now being peddled by Mr. Srinivasan’s spokesmen — that Mr. Meiyappan was not CSK’s Team Principal — raises questions about both the nature of the son-in-law’s indulgences and the extent to which the father-in-law was aware of these. Since it is up to the BCCI to investigate and act against those who adversely affect the reputation or standing of the IPL, the board will not be able to execute its role if Mr. Srinivasan remains its president.
Indian cricket is paying the price for the original sin Mr. Srinivasan and his supporters committed when he got the BCCI’s rules amended in 2008 to allow his company, India Cements, to bid for an IPL franchise. Today, however, the central issue is no longer this conflict of interest but the spectre of impropriety and wrongdoing. In the present circumstances, where everything from runs given, wickets taken, and catches dropped are thought to be linked to corrupt practices, the continuance of Mr. Srinivasan as BCCI president not only defangs the board’s anti-corruption code but also mocks the very spirit of cricket and belittles the interest that millions of fans take in the game. To be sure, matters will not resolve themselves with his exit. The BCCI is the world’s richest cricket board and will always be seen as fair game by politicians, tycoons and fixers who have an interest only in the power and influence control will bring them. Indian cricket will also have to be saved from them, but first things first. If public confidence in the integrity of the game is undermined, “the very essence of cricket will be shaken to the core,” the BCCI’s anti-corruption code says. This is precisely what has happened during the administration of Mr. Srinivasan. He must resign.