Not cricket

CM Gautam is the latest player caught in the police net and indications are that it may be just the tip of the iceberg.

The skeletons keep tumbling out of the Karnataka Premier League with players and coaches being regularly picked up by the police on charges of matchfixing.

CM Gautam is the latest player caught in the police net and indications are that it may be just the tip of the iceberg. No one should be surprised, except, of course, the Indian cricket board which has been silent witness to corruption in officially sanctioned state leagues over the years.

This is the board that puts several hurdles in the way of Indian cricketers taking part in county cricket for genuine skill-building experience and stops them from playing in overseas leagues, but has continued to be a silent watcher as its own state association sanctioned leagues are infested with corruption.

The players and support staff that form the core of these leagues are the ones who end up in the IPL, from where paths lead to the Indian team — and yet, the Indian board continues to push things under the carpet.

Take the KPL, for instance. It was even stopped for three years when Anil Kumble was the president of Karnataka State Cricket Association. When he stopped it in 2009 because he wasn’t happy with the private ownership of the franchise model, Kumble had said: “What is the KPL about? What is the point of it? In its current form, it would allow backdoor entry into KSCA for people not passionate about cricket.” And here we are, the backdoor smashed by the gate crashers.

It’s easy to criticise the players who have been involved in fixing, but the malaise spreads far beyond them. Karnataka cricket is full of stories about how the system is rigged from the top, a fact borne out by the police who have unearthed dubious owners and those who influence them. The situation has been dire for some time now.

There have been cases of captains announcing final playing elevens after the team takes to the field, because they have been suspicious of their own team mates. Some have been spooked by the presence of travelling “fans” from across the country to remote places in the state where the games were held.

Even as the police continue to investigate the KPL, the Tamil Nadu state association whose TNPL, too, was hit by the fixing controversy, has given a clean chit after an internal investigation. The pattern seems to be clear: Unless and until the police get into the act, the board or the associations won’t do any serious spring cleaning on their own.