We sat on the edge of our seats in the cinema theaters while watching Bhuvan’s (Aamir Khan) team play its last cricket match in the movie Lagaan, despite knowing the fact that India will win. Why did we do that? It was a plain scripted match in the movie, so why was there so much of thrill and excitement about the same. We still watch the same movie over and over again with the same fervor as the first time, even when we remember each and every move of the Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Team 11.

Half my children’s generation has grown up watching World Wrestling matches between those Hulk Hogans, Shawn Micheals and The Undertakers, regardless of knowing that every punch thrown or even those TLC (Table, Ladder and Chair) matches in the same are scripted. So, why is there so much of Gung-Ho about the spot-fixing happening in IPL, when it had and has been promoted as ‘Entertainment Ka Baap’ (= Father of Entertainment) by its airing partner, Sony Max. Why are Fast pacer S Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila being bestowed with Life Bans for spot fixing?

Image

Any façade that in the international business that IPL has become, cricket was more of sport than World Wrestling, came off when Ajay Jadeja, Hansie Cronje et al were caught in match fixing. My own conjecture is that the play-off slots too are pre-decided, and who will or will not make it is pre-scripted. This is similar to the laughter we hear in our favorite sit-com shows on television. Irrespective of whether the jokes are funny, the audience at home hears the laughter. Similarly, irrespective of any proven sports ability, the audiences at home or in the stadiums see what the organizers want them to see.

As we have seen over this season of IPL 6, Team Rajasthan Royals have “performed” real well and have qualified for the Play-offs, regardless of its team players involved in match fixing and “under-performing”. It might be a different matter that there are parallel organizers, the official IPL and the unofficial underworld. The problem is created because there are two conductors, whose intentions do not coincide. Hence, it is bound to become a way of making money by scripting it like a movie, when the matches are tagged as entertainment.

County cricket is tagged as a serious affair; so are ODI and other forms, hence charting out Life bans to the likes of Ajay Sharma, Danish Kaneria and Hansie Cronje were justified; ten years later when T20 has degenerated to mere entertainment, a ban on Sreesanth is not justified (perhaps it is a part of the drama). Superficially, the ban is just a way to cover the suddenly uncovered but usually ever coveted parallel conductor here. If we consider the parallel with politics – Bangaru Laxman of BJP (India’s leading opposition political party) was caught accepting a 100, 000 rupee bribe (approx USD 2,000 at current exchange rate) He was despised not because he was corrupt, but for two other reasons:

a) He got caught and

b) The amount was so small.

Now, Sreesanth is “caught” for charging Rs 60 lacs for performing badly in one over. Here, the 6 million rupees (approx. 110,000 USD) taken is a lot of money for me and most people I know. It would exceed lifetime earnings of many in India. Yet in the entertainment world of cricket, this sum being relatively small or large is still unclear to me. Should he have asked for more? Was he despised and therefore released to the police for undercutting others who charge more? There are many such questions that remain unanswered.

Image

To the point of MS Dhoni or Harbhajan Singh being blamed or counted responsible for his arrest is away from my area of understanding. The motive for targeting Sreesanth this time is not clear. However, I remain convinced that there are many more players, bookies or the parallel conductors that are engaging in entertaining cricket and will continue doing so.

People in our country still follow cricket as their religion and live in the state of constant denial that IPL is a scripted game. I can still understand that Sreesanth reigns the Twitter trends list, but I am amused by the seriousness offered to this by the main-stream media. Times of India and Hindustan Times make it a headline issue, while IBN Live covers it on a jungle fire scale. I don’t think it does deserve that much of news space or air-time. However, if this scheme of scripting business is followed in the world of international business, I hope it makes it as friendly and loved as the world of Cricket.

Advertisements