Calcutta/New Delhi: Rahul Dravid has been the very embodiment of calmness in cricket, be it on or off the field. We have seldom found him to be angry or criticise someone or something strongly. It’s not that he isn’t a strong enough character, but it’s more about the gentleman that he is.
But the game has nose-dived in recent times. The credibility of the game has been forced to duck the bouncers of corruption every now and then.
Dravid must have been shocked when players from the IPL team he captained, the Rajasthan Royals, were alleged to be associated with spot-fixing. But what he has recently said in an interview to a cricket specific website only proves that he was not only stunned by the revelations, he was extremely angry as well.
Dravid, former Indian captain, has expressed anguish over the IPL spot-fixing scandal and its fallout, saying that restoring the credibility of the game was of utmost importance. Otherwise, he said, that the cricketers might lose the fans’ love and respect.
“Things like this don’t help, when we are on the front pages of the newspapers and not on the back,” Dravid said.
“There are so many fans and so many people who care deeply about this game and it is because of these fans that we are who we are as cricketers… Administrators are there because of the fans and the cricketers to run this game, so credibility of a game, or a Board, or even a government for that matter, is important irrespective of what you do. If you are in public life it is important,” he stressed.
It’s obvious that Dravid is indirectly speaking about the mess that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in at the moment.
The BCCI is facing a serious credibility crisis ever since the spot-fixing and betting scandal broke out in the sixth edition of the IPL.
The whole issue led to Narayanswamy Srinivasan stepping aside as the Board President. Srinivasan got mired in the controversy when his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan faced betting charges along with Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra.
Then, the Bombay High Court declared that the two-member panel, constituted to probe the scandal, was “illegal and unconstitutional”. The BCCI has now moved supreme court fight their case.
Three players from the Royals were arrested on charges of spot-fixing and Dravid said that such episodes were not good for the image of the players.
“A certain amount of reverence, respect and love for cricketers can diminish, and I think it’s a really, really sad thing for cricket in this country if that had to happen,” Dravid said.
Speaking almost on the same lines, another former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said that the administrators do not respond adequately to such crisis since they know that fans have never turned their back on the game, no matter what happens.
“When the match-fixing chapter was written in Indian cricket in 1999-2000, when some of the Indian stalwarts were banned, people thought Indian cricket had this severe jolt of credibility and it would all be downhill from then on.
“I remember there was an India-Zimbabwe series at home immediately after that particular event and every seat in the stadium was taken. So, somewhere I think the administrators know that despite all these, the people will still follow this game passionately,” Manjrekar said.
“Somewhere the administrators feel that they can get away with this, and I think that doesn’t quite help in building enough pressure in the management of Indian cricket,” he added.
Manjrekar though warned that new fans coming into the sport would be a lot more demanding on how Indian cricket functions.
“I think the Indian fans have loved cricket unconditionally but that is something the administrators or the BCCI cannot take for granted for too long,” he reminded.