With the courts coming down hard on corruption in the Indian Premier League T20 cricket, cricket organizers in the country have been left scratching their heads. Iugural IPL champion Rajasthan Royals (RR) and two times champion Cheni Super Kings (CSK) have been suspended for two years by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee. After the Supreme Court found Royals co-owner Raj Kundra and CSK’s Guruth Meiyappan guilty of betting on matches in the IPL 2013, the Lodha committee had been appointed to determine the quantum of punishment. Kundra and Meiyappan have now been banned for life. Though this ruling is binding on all parties but subject to judicial review, it is likely that RR and CSK will appeal against it. So what will become of the CSK cricketers led by MS Dhoni and RR cricketers led by the Australian Steve Smith? Left without IPL contracts, these cricketers will have to enter the auction pool again and therefore face uncertain times. Though the IPL has 10 approved slots, it was scaled down to eight teams. So it is doubtful if the IPL, valued at 4 billion dollars, will go ahead next season with only six teams. So will the BCCI float tenders for new teams or will the earlier Pune and Kochi franchises make a comeback? The Kochi Tuskers was scrapped for an alleged breach of contract in 2011 while the Pune Warriors withdrew in 2013 after its sponsor Sahara Group faced crunch times.
There have been widespread allegations that a section of BCCI officials were working overtime to shield those indulging in spot fixing and betting in IPL 2013, a murky trail that was uncovered by the Delhi and Mumbai police sleuths. The involvement of the underworld brought the entire IPL into disrepute, which has been enjoying a high if controversial profile because of the heady mix of slam-bang cricket, corporate high rollers and Bollywood glamour. Now the exit of the CSK, a highly profitable franchise, is likely to cast a chill on other corporate groups itching to get into IPL. So the BCCI has a tough task on its hands to restore IPL’s credibility, reassure corporates and bring back viewers. As for Guruth Meiyappan’s father-in-law rayan Srinivasan, forced to step aside as BCCI chief by the Supreme Court after the Mukul Mudgal committee’s probe report went against him, there may be more trouble in the coming days. Srinivasan is presently heading the Intertiol Cricket Council (ICC) as BCCI representative, and has reacted to the banning of Meiyappan by characteristically asserting that he will not quit. However, the incumbent BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya’s camp may now be emboldened to elbow out the redoubtable Srinivasan. The stench of corruption and power-tussle in IPL is unfortute for T20 cricket, which has been touted as a possible Olympic discipline by leading cricketers and legions of enthusiasts. The BCCI must put its house in order and clean up IPL, so that Indian prowess in T20 cricket regains the respect it enjoyed earlier.