Mentoring of players has been a much-neglected area in cricket administration. From the time when Sourav Ganguly took over the reigns during the difficult phase when allegations of match-fixing in 2000 had left the world of cricket ravaged, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) faced the challenge of protecting its players from the lure of ill-earned lucre.

Now that spot-fixing has emerged as a monster that thrives in the shortest form of the game, a worried BCCI has called for an emergent working committee meeting on Sunday in Chennai, and the agenda obviously includes taking stock of the damage the latest cricket scam has inflicted, and ways to arrest the menace.

“The Working Committee will discuss, among other things, the fallout of the spot-fixing controversy in the ongoing IPL, in which three players have been arrested by the Delhi Police,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said.

Some time back, former India captain Rahul Dravid had cautioned the BCCI against enhancing match fees at all levels in domestic cricket. Many senior cricketers were reportedly concerned at youngsters taking to a flamboyant lifestyle in a short time. The match fees, in most cases, did not match the cricketing deeds of the youngsters, and led to a bloated idea of their own celebrity.

Former great Kapil Dev never tires of highlighting the cases of Maninder Singh, L. Sivaramakrishnan and Sadanand Viswanath as “awesome talents that were awesomely wasted.”

Maninder has often admitted to his failure in handling success in the absence of proper guidance.

It is this guidance that Anil Kumble had offered to the BCCI during a presentation last year. The idea was to mentor the young players and help them keep focus in place even off the field.

Distractions come in many shapes, and most former players agree that the money factor is the most “critical” element that needs to be handled properly. On its part, the BCCI has taken steps to educate cricketers. According to a senior administrator, players are spoken to on matters related to finances and behaviour, dealing with the public.

When attending camps, apart from learning the history and the laws of the game, the players are made aware of the latest dope control programme.

The BCCI, asserted the official, can’t do the job of the police. “The dressing room area, the playing field and the hotel floor accommodating the players, can be sanitised. But, ultimately, it boils down to the individual concerned. How to tackle the issue if the player succumbs to greed despite our best efforts to stop him? It is indeed a crisis for the game as a whole.”

The solution, noted the Board official, lies in the proper mentoring of players.

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