Irrespective of whether he is guilty of taking bribes for fixing matches or not, there is something dangerous and wicked in Mohammed Azharuddin’s suggestion that he is being singled out because he belongs to a minority community. The statement shows that he possesses a devious mind which is capable of playing with emotions that in the Indian context can only be described as provocative. Azharuddin is entitled, as is any other individual, to seek legal protection against libel but he has no business — and it may be added no evidence either — saying that the allegations against him are driven by religious bias. By making such a claim, Azharuddin is seeking protection in the politics of communalism. He is unnecessarily bringing in politics and religion in a matter that concerns sports and corruption in sports. This can only be seen as a disgraceful and a desperate step by a cricketer who has too many fingers pointing in his direction.
In matters like bribery and matchfixing, the question of evidence becomes irrelevant since the nature of the deal rules out the presence of evidence and documentation. At one level, it is reduced to two or more individuals trading charges: witness Azharuddin rubbishing Hansie Cronje’s allegations against him and Kapil Dev weeping over Manoj Prabhakar’s aspersions on his integrity. One person’s word against another cannot be the ground for any kind of debate. By reducing the issue to this kind of inanity, people like Azharuddin and Mr A.C. Muthiah, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, are in fact emptying the issue of seriousness. This kind of attitude only helps to cover up truth and displays a lack of eagerness to clean cricket of an unprecedented evil. Cricket administrators and players have for too long turned a blind eye to the presence of largescale betting and corruption in cricket. Nobody in his right mind can any longer dispute the fact that betting and matchfixing have been part of cricket in the recent past. The names of players directly and indirectly involved in these practices are still unknown. Azharuddin, instead of helping in the cleansing process, is trading charges and bringing in totally unrelated considerations and thereby making things more murky.
That Azharuddin is not a player with a straight bat is clear from the twis