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By Suresh Menon
It would have been so hilarious if it weren’t so serious. Charged by Mumbai Indians of rigging the IPL auction, the Governing Council, in a thoughtful message has said, “The governing council reiterates that the auction was transparent and fair.” So now we know what is wrong with our justice system – the wrong people are being asked to judge. We still follow the ancient system of keeping the defendant, judge and jury separate. How strange!
How much more convenient if they were all rolled into one. Think of the time and expenses that could be saved. Once again, IPL shows the way. The governing council is not only the accused, it is the judge and jury. Raja ought not to have resigned for costing the nation zillions of rupees; he should have merely been asked for his judgement on himself. Suresh Kalmadi may or may not have run off with the Commonwealth Games, but shouldn’t we have just taken his word for it that everything was in the national interest and given him one of our many civilian awards?
It ought not to cause surprise, of course, for ‘Clash of interest’ is the theme of the IPL. The Board Secretary runs a team, is a member of the governing council and decides the order in which players are to be auctioned off. We are expected to believe that his right hand does not know what his left hand is doing. The chief national selector is the brand ambassador of a franchise, and the IPL sees nothing strange in that. So, looking at their own possible wrongdoings, and by a happy coincidence deciding that these are not wrongdoings, is in keeping with the way the governing council has been functioning.
As always, the officials have a code of conduct that is different from the players’. Last year Ravindra Jadeja was banned for what was crudely seen as his greed. This year it is the turn of Manish Pandey. Greed, according to the IPL is the exclusive property of the IPL. Had Pandey played for India, he would have been entitled to greed, to a higher price and a nationally televised salary scheme. His IPL record, his first-class record and his status as the first Indian to score a century in the IPL count for nothing.
The governing council has decided to discuss the uncapped players issue next year, so it is admitting there is a problem.
The alacrity with which Pandey’s home team, Bangalore, decided to teach the youngster a lesson and the determined way it went about ensuring punishment even before the evidence was all in reeks of a pettiness that is a strange bedfellow of greed.
Like cholesterol, can there be good greed and bad greed?
The Governing Council, so eager to put the younger place in their place, might like to investigate just how easily their rules allowed the richer teams to break the ceiling on payment for their star players. What was Sachin Tendulkar paid by Mumbai Indians, for example, for remaining with them? As one owner pointed out unambiguously, the ‘official’ price was laid down by the IPL, but there was no rule on how much teams could pay their retained players over and above that.
There is a way the Manish Pandeys and the Ravindra Jadejas could have had a voice in the miasma of greed – had India evolved a Players’ Association. Such a move does not suit the cricket board (or some of the senior players), but it would eliminate some of the arbitrariness in the dealings with the players.
But greed usually comes not just with pettiness, but with selfishness too.