Unless you’ve been living under a rock in some remote medieval outpost like, say, Kolkata, you’re aware of the latest blow inflicted upon the noble character of the IPL by Rajasthan Royals bowler and part-time item number, Sreesanth. He was arrested by the Delhi police earlier this week for his role in an international spot-fixing scandal, which is unprecedented because we’ve never, ever heard of Mallus taking orders from people in Dubai.
On a serious note though, I couldn’t believe the news when I first heard it. It’s shameful that Sreesanth would be in touch with bookies through BBM. Seriously, BBM? What next – topping your i’s with hearts and licking One Direction posters? The news was also met by anguish from Sreesanth fans across the world. Or as he likes to call them, Mom and Dad. It was a bit scary to watch Sreesanth being taken away by the Delhi police. Then again, he’ll be fine, because he’s used to being whacked by North Indian men.
(I’m just glad that the Delhi Police hasn’t issued a statement saying that spot-fixing wasn’t Sreesanth’s fault, and that it was the fault of the money for being out late at night in the wallets of strangers, and none of this would’ve happened had it stayed at home locked in a Godrej cupboard like good Indian cash.)
Two more Royals bowlers were arrested with Sreesanth, namely Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, who reportedly went for 40 lakhs. Sreesanth allegedly received 60 lakhs, thus confirming once and for all that the IPL is a hotbed of mind-altering substances, because it takes a special kind of mouth-breather to throw away his career for what is essentially the ability to buy six tiles worth of real estate in a Bhayander leper colony. The last time the Rajasthan royals were associated with something this stupid, it was called sati.
Also, as a bookie, how desperate do you have to be to pay Sreesanth to bowl badly? It’s like paying pigeons to poop on your car. But happen it did, and the circus that followed was hugely interesting. First came the response from that fount of virtue, the BCCI, with Messrs Pawar and Srinivasan basically saying that corruption is the worst thing to hit the sport, second only to police investigations. Then came the denials from Sreesanth’s family members, with his brother-in-law claiming that the entire plan had been hatched to sabotage his upcoming marriage plans. You know what really upsets marriage plans? Being told that you’re marrying Sreesanth.
But apparently, he does fancy himself as quite the ladies man. Reports suggest that investigators lured him to a plush Bombay pub with the promise of “some female company”. How optimistic. I mean if Sreesanth had been around instead of Adam, Eve would’ve suddenly gotten a headache and said that “we should just be friends because I’m really looking to focus on my snake-charming career right now”.
The Delhi police then described the signalling system used by the players to help bookies identify the fixed overs. For example, a towel tucked into Sreesanth’s pants meant that he was ready to throw an over, and a smile meant that he’d probably rubbed the same towel all over Harbhajan’s lunch. There are other signals that give spot-fixers away, such as wearing a specific wristband, doing the Nagin dance step with an abdomen guard on your head, being Pakistani etc.
This could only have happened in the gold-plated world of the IPL. You’d never see something like this in, say, Indian football. That expose would be weird:
Cop: Yes, we’ve uncovered a massive fixing syndicate in the Indian Football League. Players are being paid a whopping eighteen rupees to mess up free kicks, and if they manage to flub a penalty, bookies reward them by allowing them to sleep on the railway platform least soaked in urine.
I’m sure this latest scandal will put cricket fans off the game, seeing as how we stopped watching after the Azharuddin expose. Having said that, there are still hard-working men left in the game – men who come in day after day, and do the job they were born to do. They’re called bookies.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 19th May 2013. Cross-posted from here.)