The IPL this year ended under a cloud. We wonder how the multi-crore tournament will salvage its reputation post the spot-fixing scandal

A season of the IPL with the focus only on cricket is a misnomer. In its short, six-year life, despite the success it has enjoyed, the IPL has been involved in multiple controversies that has turned in cricket into an accidental footnote. The latest controversy following the arrest of three Rajasthan Royals players and bookies on spot fixing charges has shaken the cricketing fraternity. The arrests of Vindoo Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan, a member of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, on charges of betting by the Mumbai police also created headlines. More than the cricket, it was the off field events that grabbed eyeballs and interest. MetroPlus tries to gauge the reasons for the controversies and the way forward.

Abhinav, an IT professional contends, “I enjoy the cricket in the IPL. The rest of the fluff — TV anchors/commentators who state the obvious, focus on the cheerleaders — are issues the broadcasters must address. I think the best way to make it more transparent is to delink the IPL from the BCCI and let the franchises run the tournament.”

He adds, “Many of these young players can be easily won over by shady elements and bookies in the sundry parties that happen during the tournament. The organisers must ensure that such unwanted elements are kept away from the players as much as possible. The anti-corruption unit of the ICC must be given more powers.”

Monika, a HR executive, concurs with Abhinav’s views. “I feel the Indian government should legalise betting. It will ensure that the underworld will lose its hold over this industry and will bring in more revenue to the government. Any player who is involved in any malpractice must face severe punishment, on the lines of the Lance Armstrong case in the US. If Sreesanth is found guilty, his records must be deleted and his two world cup winning medals withdrawn.”

Sanjiv Nair, a freelance writer, blames the BCCI for the fiascos that mar the IPL every year. “When the last match-fixing scandal broke out, the board just banned a few players and assumed things will work out fine. No systematic inquiry was conducted to eliminate the actual problem. The fact that a bunch of extremely fine cricketers saw India win the T20 and ODI world cups and hold on to the No.1 rank in test cricket for 18 months ensured that everything was pushed under the carpet. The IPL must focus on cricket alone and not on the silly embellishments that come alongside. The ownership patterns of the teams should become clearer. Saying that crowds still come to watch matches is condescending and insulting. They will kill a good tournament, till better governance is put in place.”

Vinod is another fan who believes that legalising betting will be beneficial in the long run. “It will ensure that the government earns money and eliminate the shady operators. I think it is the best way to manage this crisis. Having said that, the players and officials found guilty of malpractices must face severe punishment.”

Six years down the lane, the IPL must take a stance on what it actually is — a serious cricket tournament or pure entertainment, along the lines of the immensely popular WWE in the United States. A complete cleanup of the league will also go a long way in regaining the trust of the many followers of the game.