NOTES ON A SCANDAL

While IPL-V steams forward in full swing on the field, as much as we’d all like to deny it, the off-field happenings have begun to affect the fans. Over the last week, almost every second day, there has been an outbreak of controversy- some minor, but others major enough to overshadow another Gayle special (which has become pretty routine anyway). 

The Playoffs are about to begin, and this has arguably been one of the better years as far as team competition and quality of cricket is concerned. But after seeing the good and bad on the field, it is time to talk about the Ugly, off the field, in locker rooms, hotel rooms and on the boundary ropes. 
 
Worrying creases
 
1.Spot-fixing
After another week of unbelievable nail-biters, on May 13th, a popular news channel that excels at biased sensationalism, exposed a series of under-the-table potential dealings and lurid tales about spot-fixing in IPL cricket, with their latest sting operation. 
It is well-known that this channel consistently tries to ‘sting’ every single department of every single organization in this country, and they have a success rate of around 5%. But what they exposed on camera were conversations- happenings that cannot be denied or doctored, events that were eerily similar to that News Of The World story a year ago. Unfortunately, the channel’s reputation precedes it, and it is a bit hard to be subjective about this matter.
The five non-entity small-time IPL players that were caught on camera, talking about their experiences- some a bit too openly for comfort- may have very well been a case of sour grapes, for most of them are on the bench throughout the season. But if there is even an ounce of truth in what they may have said, we know, far too well, that the most entertaining two months of our year may never be the same again. 
There have been a lot of things unexplained about the system, and the way the IPL auctions are held, Srinivasan’s hold over CSK and national selection, Kris Srikkanth’s role as a ‘mascot’ and the budget cap of most domestic players. But, true to our selves, as emotional Indian fans who invariably believe in good over evil, we subconsciously push these doubts and nagging questions to the back of our mind- because, surely, we think, the worst has gone- the Pakistan players have paid with bans already. Also, this is carnival cricket- how wrong can it be, because there’s nothing official about it. Accepting certain facts about the BCCI, and the power they wield in this country, may require us to consistently break moral grounds and immerse ourselves into the circus- and be part of the system that is now exposing its ugly head to us. Accepting that there is injustice, regionalism, black-money dealings, unofficial contracts, generous gifts and other such ‘rumours’, is accepting the fact that Indian Cricket may have pushed and shoved its way to the top- not unlike ancient-day Kings slashing through tiny villages to win new exotic lands. There is nothing black or white about this situation, but the grayness of it all suggests that it is only a matter of time before there is another explosion. The clock is ticking, and this could very well be an Indian fan’s worst nightmare, circa 2000, in the coming year.

Two Two Main Main
 
2.MCA v/s Shahrukh Khan
It is hard to feel sorry for the famous superstar, after watching him show up for game after game, looking more haggard than ever, and cheering on a business venture that is keeping him afloat in Bollywood. But, on the face of it, you’d have to say that the MCA may have behaved like they believe Wankhede is the Indian equivalent of Lords. Agreed, that the greatest Indian players have come from Mumbai over the years, and the state has the most illustrious cricketing history in India- but letting the past go to your head is never a wise move. 
The Maharashtra Cricket Association is known to be full of pompous ex-cricketers and officials, those who believe that regionalism is the solution to all problems, and protecting their ‘holy’ turf like there is no other cricket ground in the world to match theirs, is a bit too farfetched. Wankhede, if you ask a true fan, will lie right at the bottom of the list of best stadiums in the country. The way the MCA treats their loyal fans and ticket-holders, game after game, for years, is deplorable- and they have not improved, even though the stadium has almost been rebuilt. The overweight executives at the top, who act like they have the world at their feet, seem to have forgotten the basics of management. The infrastructure is clearly lacking- and the MCA have nothing to be proud of- especially now that Mumbai do not even hold a fearsome reputation in domestic cricket. Their constant battle with the Cricket Club of India (CCI) has denied cricket fans an opportunity to savour their favorite sport in the best setting possible (The beautiful Brabourne is a stadium for the ages). What is widely believed, though, is the fact that maybe they couldn’t stand the sight of their second favorite son buying team Kolkata, and then parading his glory on their own ground, at the cost of their own ‘team’. 
Whatever the case, this seems to be an ego battle to end all ego battles, where an immovable force has encountered an unstoppable object. 

Whattay drag!
 
3.Luke Pomersbach and his better half
What started with a rowdy Australian trying to have his way with a woman at a five-star hotel, ended with Junior Mallya once again demonstrating his unenviable people skills, and the possibility that, all this while, he may have been running the sinking airline secretly. His father, though always in high spirits, has learned over the years that there is nothing worse than coming back to your country with a fake accent, a degree and a twitter account. Sid Mallya, his white-panted son, a boy who seems to look extremely demure in drag- an arrogant heir born with a silver spoon shoved up his derrière- has a mouth larger than his good friend Luke’s sexual appetite. Be it his ‘Pipe down, love’ tweet to Ayesha Takia a few months ago when she complained about the mistreatment of her sister by his airlines staff, or his instant reaction to the Pomersbach molesting incident- is a lesson to every young entrepreneur in the world: You do NOT start with, ‘No, this is not about molesting…’ to a major news channel when asked about your sexist tweets. 

Sadly, for this year’s tournament under the watchful eyes of Chairman Rajiv Shukla, there have been a lot of things happening ‘behind the scenes’, unexplained, vary of being exposed. 
Lalit Modi’s style of exposing the IPL to the world for what it is, and not holding the ‘parties’ back behind closed doors, may have been a better way to approach this project. 
Having said that, let’s hope the Playoffs distract us from the emerging head of yet another scandal.

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