Friday, April 23, 2010

The IPL is dead, long live the IPL

This has easily been the most exciting time to be a sports journalist since the wonderful match-fixing days in 2000-2001. What a brilliant time it was. Sports be damned. We were doing news. Finding out the truth behind what we saw on screen. Kapil Dev. Mohammad Azharuddin. Manoj Prabhakar. Ajay Jadeja. All our heroes were falling. And whatever any other journalist tells you, believe me, it was awesome. It gave us a feeling of being in the middle of something important. Something more than just match reports. Something more than scores and talk of winning and losing.

The current situation is a lot similar. Except that while we all loved Kapil and Azhar, not many of us love Lalit Modi. We don’t mind if Modi is sacked. We don’t mind hugely if the IPL dies a sudden death. None of us think it’s cricket. We think of it as entertainment. And the biggest difference between cricket and entertainment is that a cricket match creates its own script, while entertainment performances are scripted. It turns out that almost all the IPL matches are actually fixed. That means, matches are taking place according to a script. And that means it’s not cricket. It’s only entertainment. Why should I have a problem then, if the IPL is scrapped for good?

On the basis of everything that I have heard over the past few days, the following points are all true:
- Modi is deeply involved in the betting and money-laundering aspect of the IPL
- Modi himself has stakes in more than one team
- Modi cornered Shashi Tharoor at the behest of other BCCI officials
- This was done so that one of the other cities could win the bid, a city that senior BCCI officials are close to
- Modi is now being made into a scapegoat in the entire episode
- There’s no reason to believe some of the other BCCI bigwigs are not equally culpable

What’s also true is that if Modi is sacked, nothing is going to change in the BCCI or in the IPL. How can it? N Srinivasan is the owner of a team despite being the BCCI Secretary. This, despite a clause in the BCCI constitution barring officials from having such interests. This clause was changed in 2008 to accommodate Srinivasan. We have a Chairman of Selectors, who is also the brand ambassador of Chennai Super Kings. If that isn’t conflict of interest, what is?

So how will anything change if Modi is sacked? Indeed, the only way to change things is to scrap the IPL altogether. It is not cricket anyway.