It is now irrefutable: No game is more corrupt than cricket. Or more corrupting, or more amoral, or more afoul of the law. Or course no game throws more cash around. Which proves yet again that money is the root of all evil.
We may have individual preferences as to the degree of sleaze and vulgarity attached to the scandals of recent days. Who was the nastier spoilt brat, Shahrukh Khan who berated hapless security personnel or Siddharth Mallya, whose normal language seems to be of the filthy kind? Were the Income Tax searches on some IPL owners' premises more belittling than the match-fixing deals in which some players were caught? Was the rave party with cocaine and other drugs in Mumbai a bigger breach of the law than the five-star punching of a fiance-boyfriend in Delhi? Was Subramaniam Swamy's allegation that IPL promoted black money and prostitution more shameful than BCCI buying the silence of former players with bonus cheques while pointedly leaving out players turned critics?
Make your pick. But no one can deny that cricket as it is managed and played today brings disgrace to India, turns players into pawns in the hands of swindlers, helps politicians to make politics out of sports and allows millionaires to flout more rules, and make more money by hook and by crook. Cricket has become anything but cricket.
The sting operation that showed young players agreeing to fix the game in return for money revealed the depths to which the culture of cricket had sunk. And yet that was not the most frightening part of the sting. Two other findings were. The first was that team owners paid players more than the publicly stated price. What were these under-the-counter payments except black money operations with all their implications?
The BCCI promptly suspended five players named in the sting operation. Big deal. What about the black money operations which, given the size of the auction figures and the large number of players, must run into millions? And what about the second of the two frightening findings – that women played an important role in match fixing negotiations?
If the BCCI has initiated action over these findings, it is keeping it a secret. Actually, the role of women should have been investigated as soon as Lalit Modi started importing white-skinned “cheer leaders” for IPL matches. Whose cheer were they leading? The question hit the roof last year when Gabriella, a South African cheer leader, said in her blog that a cheer leader was a “walking porn” and cricketeers were full of “flirtateous, inappropriate” behaviour. Instead of an inquiry and remedial action, Gabriella was sent home forthwith.
And this year we have a whole new drama starring Zohal Hameed, Zahil Peerzada, Luke the Unpronounceable and sundry extras. Zohal said Zahil was her fiance, Zahil said Zohal was his girl friend, Sidhharth said Zohal was all over him, Luke said he never did anything wrong, the next day he said he accidentally touched Zohal. Everyone sufficiently confused, everyone was happy.
Again, nobody looked into issues beyond whether Luke assaulted Zahil who was hospitalised. Who really were these Zohal and Zahil? We know Zohal was a New York girl with an Afghan father and an Iranian mother. But we also know – because she said so – that she did not know what was cricket and IPL and never watched a match and was not really interested.
So what was she doing in Delhi amid cricketing VIPs? Is it true that a team owner had brought her to India for the current season? What was her role? Is she rich enough on her own to live in a suite in one of Delhi's most expensive hotels and go around the city in a white Mercedes? How could she be “all over” a tycoon who is unapproachable by ordinary folk? We will never know the answers because cricket is manipulated by India's wiliest politicians and wealthiest barons. They are above even the laws of decency.