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Integrity is non-negotiable: Sunny

Sunil Gavaskar

Calcutta: Sunil Gavaskar, who has been entrusted with the duty of being the interim president of the BCCI in IPL matters by the Supreme Court, kept his message for captains and coaches of the franchises simple in a pre-IPL season meeting on Tuesday — Play hard, play fair.

With the IPL striving to restore its image, that’s a pretty to-the-point instruction from the man in charge.

According to a BCCI media release, Gavaskar stressed on the importance of playing the game according to the MCC Spirit of Cricket — Play hard, play fair — and reminded the players and the coaches that they are role models for followers of the game and other players.

He insisted that playing the game with integrity and honesty was of utmost importance.

The former India captain reiterated his views on Wednesday, during a television interaction on the sidelines of the opening IPL VII match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians.

“Integrity is non-negotiable… You cannot compromise on integrity as far as any sport is concerned, particularly the IPL, because of what has happened last year. It is therefore important to change the image and change the perception,” Gavaskar said.

He said that the image of the game shouldn’t be tarnished because of the acts of a few people.

“In my speech last night, I said that just because of a few people, the entire society doesn’t get tarnished. Similarly, because of a couple of people, you must not tarnish the cricketing fraternity and the tournament.”

He urged the fans to have faith in the players who are honest and give their best on the field.

“I hope the fans would understand that there are a lot of honest players out there who go out and slog and sweat it out and give their best. They try their best every single delivery, every single minute and you should have faith in them,” he said.

Talking about team owners' reactions and celebrations after their respective teams' victories, during an informal chat, Gavaskar said: “It is very important to stay safe while indulging in over-the-top celebrations, but it is equally important to celebrate, albeit in the right spirit. When a team is winning, there are smiles and good vibes all around…

“And if an owner can convey that feeling of happiness all across the team in a conventional manner, it's really good. At the same time, I would like tell the team owners - be sober, not Sobers.”

The BCCI media release also informed that Gavaskar met with India stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and sought their views on various issues.

Sourav Ganguly was unavailable as he was travelling.

The seventh edition of the tournament was declared open in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

The evening was marked with an opening event rich in cricketing pedigree as well as a generous dose of fun and frolic.

It began with a welcome note by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahayan, minister of culture, youth & community development.

Following the introductory speech, it was time for host Ravi Shastri to invite the eight IPL captains to vow their allegiance to maintain the integrity of cricket by signing the MCC Spirit of Cricket plaque.

Then Gavaskar delivered a passionate speech about how he and his colleagues at the Board intend to take every possible measure to eradicate the very shadow of corruption from the sport.

Gavaskar appealed to cricket fans all over the world to maintain their faith in cricket and believe in its sanctity.