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CLEAN THE MESS

The mess that goes by the name of the Board of Control for Cricket in India makes a perfect case for its nationalization. The Telegraph hates to say this since nationalization or the State ownership of corporate bodies goes against the fundamental principles this newspaper stands for and upholds. But there are situations that demand the State’s intervention. Over the last couple of years, the state of affairs in the BCCI has gone steadily downhill. The BCCI has lost all credibility and all sense of respectability. It is riddled with factions, nepotism and corruption. But it continues to administer what is India’s most popular and most lucrative sport. Cricket is no longer a gentleman’s summer game; it is a flourishing global business. And India is a key player in this enterprise. The BCCI, instead of protecting the interests of the game that fills its coffers, has done cricket in India enormous harm. It is part of the responsibility of the BCCI to protect cricket from punters and sharks — betters, match-fixers and the like. It is now obvious that the powers-that -be in the BCCI have failed to carry out this primary responsibility and may even have tried to protect some of those who are involved in corrupt practices.

The enquiry committee appointed by the Supreme Court to probe into IPL betting and spotfixing allegations has indicted Gurunath Meiyappan, who is the son-in-law of N. Srinivasan, the president of the BCCI and the chairman designate of the International Cricket Council. It will be recalled that some time back, Mr Srinivasan had declared that his son-in-law was no more than a cricket enthusiast. The apex court is set to take cognizance of the matter on March 7. That what has been made public by the enquiry committee may only be the tip of the iceberg is suggested by a sealed envelope that the committee handed over to the Supreme Court. The contents of the envelope have stirred speculation and no one is quite prepared to believe that the contents will not implicate powerful people in the BCCI. This state of affairs, where even the president of the BCCI cannot be presumed to be beyond suspicion, only suggests how murky the administration of cricket, particularly in its upper echelons, has become. The government of India can no longer remain a passive observer. It needs to act to save cricket. The first step in that direction is to take over the BCCI.