KT edit: Cricket's tryst with corruption and politics must end
Cricket's governing bodies have failed to stem the rot and governments must wake up to this corruption on the pitch.
Match-fixing has snuffed the joy out of cricket and put it under a cloud. Players have been caught taking money to change the course of matches. Let's admit it: corruption is rife if not rampant, and systemic, and it's time that specific anti-corruption laws are framed to prevent tainted players from taking the crease. The paying public feel cheated when cricketers play foul and are in cahoots with bookies and other scamsters. Justice, therefore, must be meted out under the provisions of criminal law, and it is the duty of all cricket playing nations to treat such offenses as crimes and root them out systematically.
The Gentleman's Game has gone commercial. We get that, but criminalisation must be stopped before the spirit of cricket is killed and the game is further dragged into disrepute. Big names like Hansie Cronje, Mohammad Azharuddin and others were embroiled in scandals. Cronje died in a mysterious plane crash and we thought the sordid episodes of the 90s and 2000s had been put to rest with his death, yet scandal after scandal continues to tumble out, besmirching the game's fair name. Cricket's governing bodies have failed to stem the rot and governments must wake up to this corruption on the pitch. With Sri Lanka joining efforts to tackle the menace legally - the first country in South Asia to do so - others should follow suit, particularly India which wields excessive influence over the conduct of the game with its pool of talent, audiences and, of course, financial clout. But are power-brokers of the sport serious about reform? The Sri Lankan parliament has shown it means business by passing a bill titled the 'Prevention of Offences Related to Sports'.
Cricketers found guilty of graft could get prison terms as high as ten years and also be slapped with fines. Bans in the past have been ineffective and offenders like Mohammad Azharuddin are now helming cricketing affairs in India. Invoking provisions of the general corruption code have also been unsuccessful as the guilty walk free after short terms out in the cold. The trouble with reforming the Gentleman's Game is not commercial but political. But if Sri Lanka can do it, so can India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It only takes political will and legislation. The question is this: will politicians, the real lords of cricket, allow it?