The recent arrest of Sreesanth and two of his team mates for spot fixing has yet again uncovered the lid on one of the most commonly understood and appreciated features of the game i.e. fixing. Some people I know often claim that bookies have informed them who will win a particular match. If they are right I here the usual stock market lingo – Bola tha aapko after the event and if they are wrong then a pregnant silence ensues.
The arrest may be surprising but the revelations should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the game on or off the field. The recent turn of events is just putting in public domain, something which everybody is more or less aware of, yet afraid to talk about freely. I was a big cricket fan for most part of my life till the match-fixing scandal burst out in the late 90s and people like Azharuddin and Manoj Prabhakar were given life-long bans, which surprisingly the high court overturned.
I also believed in the glorious uncertainties of the game. I used to shout and get angry when at a crucial time the bowler was smashed for runs or a well-set batsman, while chasing. used to get out. Commentators like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri would then wax eloquently about the glorious uncertainties. All of us would stay glued to the radio or TV set anticipating twists and turns and hoping for miracles till the last ball was bowled.
Post the explosive disclosures of Manoj Prabhakar and others, my interest in watching the game has dwindled. I usually restrict myself to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat. For everything else, I have a cynical shrug. The end game was Kapil Dev crying on national TV. I gave up – for me Kapil Dev stood for everything glorious about cricket – spontaneous raw talent. I can’t forget his hitting Eddie Hemming 4 sixes to save the follow on, where a more sensible approach would have been to take a single of the last ball and shield the tail ender. May be that was the fix – who knows?
Fixing is prevalent everywhere. Sumo wrestling is fixed in Japan. The football league is fixed. So why make a fuss about IPL in India?
In the recent past, my young son has developed an interest in cricket and I don’t want my cynicism to pollute his innocent mind. He shouts with joy when CSK wins. So for me, it was extremely painful to answer his questions about match fixing. The color of money and the color of costumes if you may call it, have given way to the old gentleman’s game when both teams were uniform in their white attire.
My friend’s son, four years elder and wiser than my son, is so distraught about wasting his time staying up late for IPL matches. His anguish is even more because this happened in Rahul Dravid’s team who at least for most people is the epitome of integrity and decency. Dravid’s book Timeless Steel may sadly be written as Timeless Steal if he had to pen the recent events.
My wife and I had a very interesting discussion with my 8-year old son. His question was what went wrong with the players; what is cheating and why do people do such things? It was not really easy explaining to him that greed makes people veer off the straight path. He quite failed to understand why players do such things to make money and let their own teammates down.
The last question that my son had was whether Sachin Tendulkar is involved? Should a newspaper headline scream Sachin is involved in match-fixing, I am sure very few people including my son will no longer be interested in watching the game. After all the discussions we had with my son on cricket, he finally concluded that Sachin is not prone to corruption because he is rich. Sachin owns a Ferrari and that is the epitome of wealth for my son.
If only life was so simple and all wealthy people were honest, India and the world, I am sure would be a much better place to live in.
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