IPL bans hailed as chance to clean up scandal-hit image

NEW DELHI, July 15

India’s cricketing fraternity on Wednesday welcomed the shock decision to ban two teams from the IPL as a long overdue opportunity for the game to clean up its scandal-sullied image.

While the suspension of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the next two editions has thrown the Indian Premier League (IPL) into turmoil, former players, administrators and commentators said the move would strengthen the glitzy Twenty20 tournament in the long run. Top officials in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) say they would respect the punishments announced by former chief justice Rajendra Mal Lodha on Tuesday which were seen as a damning verdict on the rule of the organisation’s former chief Narayanaswami Srinivasan.

Inderjit Singh Bindra, another former head of the BCCI, hailed what he called the “historic and landmark” punishments imposed after top officials were caught betting on IPL matches involving their own teams. “Beginning of the process of cleansing Indian cricket. I do hope that BCCI learns the right lessons,” Bindra tweeted. The veteran commentator Ayaz Memon said the verdicts should serve as a wake-up call to the BCCI which is by far the most powerful body in world cricket thanks to the huge TV contracts that the Indian team commands.

“Essentially the Lodha report is a stinging indictment of BCCI which has skirted around issues of ownership rules, conflict of interest, match fixing, spot fixing and probity in office bearers ever since IPL began”, he wrote. “The biggest import of the Lodha report is that the shield BCCI has always used to cover itself with, that it is a private society which owes allegiance to itself; has been busted,” he added.

Since its launch in 2008, the IPL has become hugely popular by paying mega salaries to big-name internationals who perform against a glamorous backdrop of dancing girls and Bollywood stars. But despite attracting big audiences, it has been dogged by scandals, match-fixing and crooked umpires. The tournament’s effective founder Lalit Modi is currently resisting demands to return home from exile in London to face questioning over money-laundering linked to a mega IPL broadcast deal.