After 23 October, when the cricket control board’s elections will have been over, well might India find itself wondering aloud if everything is shipshape now, given the backdrop of the spot-fixing scandal, the top court’s inclusion in a seemingly determined bid to get rid of sundry ills afflicting the game, correctional recommendations by a legally mandated panel and, of course, the Committee of Administrators taking over to shepherd the men and machinery in the set-up.
It has been a long while and there might yet be kerfuffles galore before the annual general meeting – over who have adopted the new constitution and who haven’t – but once a new administrative body is installed, things should ideally be easier than before. But there is this thing about ideal situations: they seldom exist beyond the text-book where they are outlined. A very senior former official in western India has already gone on record as saying, with good reason, that if a wholesale, revolutionary removal of gerontocracy was what had been aimed at – with its connotations of a clean-up drive – the outcome was akin to the mountain going into labour and producing a mouse.
As state units go to the polls – or don’t, unanimity proving in a lot instances rather easy to achieve – what becomes clear is that proxies are ridiculously simple to come by. The erstwhile king becomes a kingmaker, with a dummy being ushered on to his now-vacant throne. Where better to look for it than in one’s own family? Which is why an impressive congregation of former, long-past-drool-by-date officials’ relatives of all kinds can now be seen to have stepped forth into the limelight.
A dynastic rule it does smack of but, as has been pointed out, there apparently is nothing against it in the book as painstakingly re-written by august personages as a central component of India’s cricket reset. Just how strong officials’ survival instinct can be is shown by someone soon to be obliged to walk into his administrative sunset by tugging not only his elder brother but also his uncle into a state committee which is among the richest in the country. And there are people who will tell you that cricket’s real riches are in its underground sector. That provokes a question about whether contrived exchanges will be consigned to history once conformity to the new dispensation has been made sure of.
In other words, will rigged, or only partially choreographed matches be spoken henceforth of only by fantasists once the cricket board’s new high-ups move into their enclaves of privilege? This is of far greater importance simply because of the game’s need for credibility. It cannot be compromised on. Not any more. Shadowy tournaments here, there and virtually everywhere have dealt cricket a staggering blow it cannot take in its stride if preventive measures are no better than weak nostrums.