Will he Wont he

Will he Wont he

At first look, N Srinivasan appears to be conservative in the truest of Indian traditions. However, if appearances can be deceptive, then the promoter...

At first look, N Srinivasan appears to be conservative in the truest of Indian traditions. However, if appearances can be deceptive, then the promoter of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) comes off as its classic living example. His controversial entry and mercurial rise in the Board of Control for Cricket in India is the stuff of legends. The accompanying piece traces the origins of the Srinivasan Saga and looks into why he has no friend or admirer. Whether he will comeout unscathed or will he get sucked up into the IPL quagmire, only time tell
Sridhar K Penna I see no reason why I should quit. I have done no wrong and my conscience is quite clear -N Srinivasan, whose conflict of interest has made a nonsensical mockery of established traditions. These utterances are only reiterations of what have been aired for quite some time now. They have gained in currency after the sensational arrest of three cricketers, who today appear to be mere pawns in the multi-crore fixing-betting syndicate.
The fact of the matter is that the man who rules over the India Cements Empire that is estimated at over Rs 4,000 crore remained unfazed and unperturbed by the 'mudslinging' and vociferous cries for his head. He goes to the extent of unabashedly stating, 'I am being framed.' The 'iron-man' of Indian cricket was comfortably ensconced in two posts, which are unethical even by BCCI Constitutional standards. That then is the state-of-affairs and the throes on which Indian cricket presently finds itself in or was in from the time Srinivasan assumed office as the boss of BCCI. It is also indicative of the man who lords over the sport by being at the helm of affairs of the richest cricketing board, on whose landscape the IPL Governing Council appears like a miniscule smear. If dictatorial powers and machinations have been used by anyone to the obnoxious and devastating levels that Adolf Hitler employed to silence his critics, then none can match the manipulative histrionics of Srinivasan, whose single-minded formula has been to first seize power and cling on to it for life. The Srinivasan saga began controversially, the reign has been a sham and more worse is that it has taken Indian cricket to the shambles, right down to the pits. Words like morals, scruples and ethics have long been tossed out of the administrators' parlance.
Controversy apparently has been his middle name, because Srinivasan has been in the thick of it since the time he became BCCI treasurer in 2008, not surprisingly, under dubious and questionable circumstances. By poetic justice, it was the very year that the brash and suave Modi unveiled the desi, but larger-than-life, version of the hugely successful revolution called the Kerry Packer circus. The former BCCI President and Srinivasan's bête noire, A C Muthiah petitioned the Supreme Court alleging that the then treasurer had altered the BCCI constitution as he wanted to bid for a franchise slot after floating Chennai Super Kings. Modi has been a past master and his daring to take on the rich and famous (and the system thereof) on their turf helped skyrocket the Championship to hitherto unheard of highs in the global popularity stakes. According to several BCCI administrators, Srinivasan faced criticism when he attempted to, and succeeded, in amending the rule book to serve his vested interests. Srinivasan has, since then, systematically demolished the rather professionally woven IPL to such extremes that just about everyone wanted the 'monster' thrown out of the window, once and for all. The calculatingly shrewd Srinivasan, according to another critic, was smart enough to virtually disown his tainted kin by having India Cements issue an official communication that Gurunath Meiyappan was NOT enjoying any position in the Chennai Super Kings outfit, implying that he was not on the company's pay-roll. Stories have also originated in the media that Srinivasan was being victimised by a powerful politician, who is out to destroy the 'last remaining traces of goodwill' of the BCCI boss. In his first reaction, the 68-year-old man in the hot seat brushed aside the spot-fixing scandal with a nonchalant beamer-three rotten eggs can do no harm to the Championship. Exhilaratingly ridiculous! If the heat is on Srinivasan then his worst critics come from within his immediate family. The 40-year-old son-in law may never have imagined till last fortnight that he would be hounded and doomed for acting like the heir to the empire. He was privy to inside information because people feared him. After all, as the extra-constitutional authority representing the most powerful man in Indian cricket (one who could make or break one's career with the snap of a finger) Meiyappan was untouchable. The elevation of blue-eyed poster boy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the post of Vice-President in India Cements hierarchy was a well-calculated masterstroke to put an end to the 'outsider' tag attached to the CSK captain. It also evidences his attitude, arrogance and care-a-damn approach to the rule book. Ironically, the incumbent chief mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kris Srikkanth, was made CSK brand ambassador when he was the Chairman of the Selection Committee. Adding salt to the wounds is the estranged 44-year-old son, Ashwin, who minced no words while castigating Gurunath for his dubious connections in Chennai and Dubai and bringing disrepute to the family. He has also threatened to expose the head of Indian cricket's first family. As a billion-dollar scandal-hit baby, IPL has far out-shamed the outrageous Sharjah Desert cricket. Like Nero, unwilling to be caught in the vortex of spot-fixing, Srinivasan was golfing away to glory in far-off Kodaikanal Golf Club in the company of his 'dearest' son-in-law. That is how the cookies crumble, perhaps, or maybe not. Amen!
The arrest of three Rajasthan Royals players, S Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila, has been the tip of the iceberg. It has brought to the fore the meticulous manner spot-fixing is operated.A Utterances like 'IPL has lost credibility' is stating something as obvious as mentioning that New Delhi is the capital of India. Technically speaking, spot-fixing is quite different from match-fixing that first shamed the gentleman's game with most of the villains-to-the-piece not unexpectedly being top grade Indian cricketers, including the then captain. If match-fixing determines the eventual outcome, the newest crime that has manifested itself and has assumed demon-like proportions relates to isolated incidents during the course of a match. Alas, these are difficult to track-down even in the era of live telecasts. The bowler-inspired crime varies from a no-ball or wide implying that a single player can render harm and alter the equations to a considerable extent. Match-fixing, in contrast, has to have more than one player to operate. The batsman-criminal can drop anchor with a go-slow tactic, which is both horrendous and suicidal in the slam-bang variety that, by manifested compulsion, banks on sixes and boundaries and not on singles and twos. It has been widely established that bookies trap the wannabe Johnny into getting out for single-digit scores or give away an extra during a particular over. In return for the 'obligation', the player gets a pittance of the princely amount the bookie makes from gullible punters. Tracing the crime or catching the criminal red-handed is nearly improbable because the operating syndicates place and accept bets on particular deliveries. Given the nature of the T20 format, a reckless dismissal or an exorbitant over is treated as a bad day in office, which comes in handy for the fixers. Spot-fixing gained notoriety in August 2010 when two Pakistan pacers were found guilty of bowling no-balls during a particular over. A year later, three players from the same country, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were declared guilty, banned for varied periods and jailed for the offense, all at the behest of ICC. In India it is difficult to see if prosecution can happen as there are no anti-fixing laws. It is only now that the Government of the day has woken up from its Rip Van Winkle slumber. Sincerity in approach and making a meaningful cleansing job ought to have been initiated immediately after several players were found guilty of match-fixing almost two decades ago. Even here the double-standards of the authorities stand glaringly exposed. When a player (or captain for that matter) is found guilty of resorting to malpractices and indulges in on-field fraud, a percentage of his match fee is straightaway deducted. In contrast, the match-fixers with well-established links were banned but no effort was made to recover the money that was ill-gotten, in the first place. Suresh Kalmadi and his accomplices in the Commonwealth Games crime served sentences but no money was recovered from them nor any properties attached. It is shamefully disgusting!
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