The coronavirus and the managed environment with which cricket makes a pretence of coping with it have combined to create a situation in which secrecy is a lot easier to ensure than was possible earlier. Not that administrators were ever lax where information outflow was concerned. And when the Indian Premier League’s 2013 scandals tumbled disconcertingly out of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s cupboard and some blue-chip, globally famous corporate houses spoke in a politely restrained but unmistakably firm way of the need for investigation and corrective action, the controls that the BCCI exercised on things floating out into the public domain became tighter than ever.
Since it was hard to imagine Twenty20 being able to hold corrupting influences off for any length of time, it would have spotted its lone option in pushing things under the carpet, or wherever. One considerable part of its everyday activity came in due course to be offering the media its own, nothing-if-not-sanitised side of things on its own, electronic platform. Everyone in it is cherrypicked and under surveillance, 24×7.
The enterprise is impressively elaborate, ever-awake, and extends into areas which the board’s earlier autocrats seldom allowed to bother themselves. But it does imply you get to know only what the BCCI wants you to know. So when the breach-in-the-West-Asian-bio-bubble story or a helmeted Deepak Hooda’s self-promoting but rule-disobeying pictorial indiscretion in the IPL flash on a million smartphone screens ~ as both did on Wednesday ~ what you might be left wondering about is: what is it that they don’t let on? And most of the far larger entity described as the independent media plays merrily along too.
We have got to know nothing since May 2021 ~ when the IPL was put in suspended animation amid a rash of Covid-19 infections in its bubble ~ about an alleged bid to rig a game using a residential facility’s laundry service. Subservience lurks behind occasional defiance.
Not as attractive a story as something by Agatha Christie but the IPL, at its core, is only about the fair-is-foul-and-foul-is-fair commercial warp and weft laced into a game which was too fragile to resist it. And all of it can be got away with, as the return of the coronavirus reality underlined.
The BCCI has moved heaven and earth to get the IPL going for a second time in the current season since it came to be interrupted, having previously brazened it out when India struggled against the killer disease. Money explains the brashness, not the spectacularly wanton ways of football’s European Championship, which was just as bad. It is the power that money confers that will silence a few crucially important voices. These are open secrets.