For years, we have been crazy about cricket. I fondly remember how at times we woke up at four in the morning to watch cricket matches. The schedule of the entire day was planned according to the match`s timing. In fact, we planned the schedule of the entire week, as per cricket series. Several important errands took a backseat due to cricket, and a win or a century by an Indian cricketer was celebrated like a festival.
But, as a journalist, as I personally met with cricketers and administrators, I was left very disappointed. Here, I am not talking about all the cricketers, but about most of them. After meeting them, I realised, that it was money which drove them, and not the passion for the game. The entire game had become a corporate business. The more I got in touch with such people, the more my interest for the game deteriorated. There was suspicion in the mind while watching certain matches and it seemed what was being shown, wasn`t the reality.
While all this happened, we realised that the game isn`t clean, and given an opportunity we would certainly reveal the truth behind it. And we did expose through Zee News. We conducted a sting operation on Vindoo Dara Singh and former IPS officer Sampath Kumar. The reason was Justice Mukul Mudgal`s report. Justice Mudgal showed that to come up with an expose, one didn`t need hundreds of policemen. It was just the right intent from one person, which was all that was needed. After we condcuted the sting operation a lot of pressure was exerted upon us from several corners, with people asking us not to telecast it. Sampath Kumar was suspended even before the sting was aired. When we approached several officers and players for their reactions on the sting, they said the sting would lead to defamation not reaction.
We had to decide whether to telecast the sting or not, and we decided to air it. Once the sting was shown, a Rs 100-crore defamation suit was filed against our channel by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The entire system was a part of the case. There were a handful of people who wanted to support us but they were not in a position to do so. And the ones who could have helped kept mum. But here, I would like to praise Aditya Verma, the secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar, who said that we should continue fighting.
During all this, we were relieved that there was Supreme Court. The SC decided to clean the dirt which many senior officials refused to admit and chose to omit.
The thing to note is, that even Narendra Modi is associated with the BCCI as he is the president of the Gujarat Cricket Association. Modi, who openly takes on corruption and dynastic control, has not uttered a word on this matter. Congress` Rajiv Shukla hasn`t spoken either. Renowned lawyer Arun Jaitley, who is associated with the Delhi Cricket Association, didn`t see any wrongdoing within the BCCI. Why?
Personally, in this entire episode, two people disappointed me a lot – Narendra Modi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Modi is playing a double role at the moment—apart from being the Bharatiya Janata Party`s Prime Ministerial candidate, he is also the president of the Gujarat Cricket Association. But he remained silent over the entire episode. His stature would have risen to newer heights had he spoken about the corruption involved in the game of cricket.
MS Dhoni is playing a triple role. He is the skipper of the Indian cricket team, the skipper of Chennai Super Kings and also the vice president of India Cements. In the Supreme Court, senior advocate Harish Salve observed that Dhoni only seemed to be working as the vice president of India Cements. Salve said that Dhoni had lied to Justice Mudgal. According to me, Dhoni is the second most significant Indian cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, but he failed to save his iconic image. He wasn`t under any sort of compulsion to lie. He is not a new cricketer struggling to cement his place in the Indian team, but the captain of the Indian cricket team. And that too a very strong captain. Despite this, he fell into N Srinivasan`s trap? The question is, why did he have to do this?
The truth is that the BCCI won`t benefit from Srinivasan`s departure. Several officials in the Board are responsible for his arbitrary control over the BCCI. Today, when people talk about the issue of corruption during elections, just think what have they ever said over the issue of corruption which has infested the game of cricket, which is nothing less than a religion in India. The irony is that despite having different opinion on several issues, these officials become one in the air-conditioned rooms of the BCCI. The decision taken by the Supreme Court is an opportunity for us. We can seize and rid cricket of corruption. If we fail to make the best use of this opportunity, even God can`t save cricket`s future in India.