The corruption circus at the Pune stadium underscores the clowning element in protecting international cricket. That the curator of the venue could take along with him onto the pitch an undercover journalist posing as a bookie and actually engage in a deal boggles the imagination.
According to the tape, he promises to doctor the pitch before the next day’s game between India and New Zealand and affably agrees that it can be done to order.
Pandurang Salgaoncar has been suspended pending an investigation. Yeah, sure.
What is most disturbing is that the ‘bookie’ having proclaimed he was a bookie was allowed to go on to the pitch making a dog’s breakfast of the BCCI’s highly vaunted claim of failsafe security measures. What was the great anti-corruption unit (ACU) doing and how did such a massive breach occur? It’s boss Neeraj Kumar certainly has egg on its face but before they use him as a scapegoat, it becomes necessary to make a few tacit observations.
One, there can never be failsafe security despite all the froth they whip up by way of signage and the breathless setting of the rules to music because these gods of cricket’s administration are themselves above the laws they promulgate. Add to that sponsors, VIPs, political bigwigs, cinema stars and their entourage, other cricketers invited as honoured guests, most of them carting huge and fragile egos and the exceptions run into dozens of people who cock a snoot at the security.
By that very token the security staff and are not the Black Cats or the Secret Service but a rag, tag and bobtail scrum of semi-educated people handing out harassment to the great unwashed public and being belittled with that traditional ‘malum nahi hum kaun hai’ as they push the poor uniformed sod aside.
See it so often, this totem pole of self-importance making mincemeat of security measures.
Consequently, while much is made of policing the practices and ensuring no one talks to the players and it is all ‘hush hush’ and profound, the foolishness is transcended by dropping names. Odds are this journalist behaved in a fashion that important Indians do and intimidated the security staff. That is his job, don’t blame the reporter.
And what if he was escorted in. Chances are he came ready to perform a sting operation.
And members of the media do have their share of VIPs who are given similar benediction and allowed to trot around and engage in their networking.
So their getting onto the pitch is no great shocker. What is shocking is how easy it is to discuss an act of malafide intent and corruption and chat about it while being identified as bookies.
It would have been a lot more understandable having breached the hallowed area if he were a bookie posing as a journalist asking a hypothetical question about pitches being so easily doctored.
Now, either Salgaoncar is a complete idiot or he was set up and was at his age of 68 showing off about how it could be done which makes it a hypothetical and educational insight into match-fixing elements.
Much less a crime...falls into the realm of indiscretion
It is an interesting take because would you really, in your sane mind, chat with bookies on the pitch and explain to them how you are going to do the dirty one day before an international. Surely, one could be a wee bit more furtive than that.
Didn’t Salgaoncar smell a rat? He is a cricketer and he has been round the block, he is not some callow greenhorn.
Before we listen to former captain Mohammad Azarhuddin and throw the book at him or share the shock with BCCI general secretary Amitabh Choudhary, there is a need to obtain Salgaoncar’s point of view.
The BCCI cannot just get rid of him and feel vindicated. Find out who in a high place helped the journalist get on the pitch after declaring he was a bookie. He did not just saunter in.
Come on, BCCI frontline, this is your acid test. You don’t answer this simple, singular question, you should all get the same treatment you have meted out to Sreesanth.
You should be banned.