In the backdrop of the Indian Premier League (IPL) getting mired in a series of controversies, the former Test cricketer, Kirti Azad, on Sunday sat on a hunger strike at the Ferozshah Kotla here to protest “corruption in cricket on various platforms.”

Raising his voice against the use of ‘black money' in the IPL, Azad said, “I have no complaint against T20 cricket. I demand transparency in the manner in which it is being run … We have given our life to the game and it really pains to see the degeneration of cricket. I will do whatever [necessary] to protect cricket's image.”

He said: “Payments are being made over and above their [players'] legally contracted price. There are a lot of questions that the BCCI has to answer, particularly since it has to do with FEMA violations. There should be transparency in the dealings of the BCCI, and they should now come under the ambit of the RTI.”

“Four cricketers cornered in the sting operation recently have clearly stated that a parallel IPL is being played behind the scenes, with most players being paid in black. What is the source of all this money? Why should the government not choke the illegal sources of money in IPL?”

Azad also pointed out the issue of conflict of interests in the IPL. “Why should the BCCI bosses be involved with franchisees? Why should they own teams? Why should there be separate rules for icon cricketers? The secrecy and opaqueness of dealings have to give way to openness and transparency.”

Citing the instance of three Pakistani cricketers being punished for spot-fixing in England, Azad said, “In India, whenever something happens, BCCI officials quickly gang up and start rubbishing the allegations and put pressure on the police to quash the proceedings.”

Azad objected to the degeneration of cricketing values in the IPL. “Discipline is missing. You have all ingredients of entertainment in IPL … Lady owners are barging on to the field to ask the umpires about a decision. An actor is threatening a guard at a stadium, a cricketer allegedly molesting a woman. What is left? Franchises are taking ownership to a different level altogether. Integrity of the game is the biggest casualty.”

Azad, a BJP MP, demanded more accountability from administrators of the game. “In Delhi, the last two matches were played without a disaster management cover. The fact of the matter is that the stadium is lying incomplete for the last several years. Laws have been thrown to the winds leaving the fate and security of 45,000 people at the mercy of divine help.”

Another former Test cricketer Vivek Razdan supported Azad's demands. “We are not against any institution or tournament. The issues raised here are for the betterment of cricket. These issues are tarnishing the image of the game. We do not want that our country gets a bad name because of this,” said Razdan.

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