Relax, cricket will survive

2013-05-22 15:25
Sport24 columnist Ant Sims (File)
Here we are again. Many are left feeling breathless after a sucker punch of allegations has left them cold and whimpering. For some, it wasn’t so much a sucker punch as it was an expected right hook in a sparring contest everybody entered into willingly.

The news that three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested on Thursday due to their alleged involvement in spot fixing and with more games under scrutiny and more arrests apparently imminent as left the game in a bit of a catatonic state, again. It’s not the first time it’s happened, of course. Since its inception, cricket has gone hand-in-hand with betting. 

In its earliest years, betting played a major part in cricket and as the popularity of the game had grown, so did the popularity of betting on it. With the arrival of cellphones, the internet and betting websites, cricket or at least its players, became an easy target.

So you have a game, tailor-made for betting, which can easily be rigged, played by humans, who are inherently flawed. That equation doesn’t inspire much hope. Those who run the game have tried to keep it clean with phrases like “The Spirit of Cricket” and “The Gentleman’s Game” being shoved down everybody’s throat. Those are all quaint notions and while they have their place, they are mostly nothing more than a plaster being stuck over a wound gushing with blood.

Spot fixing is easy. Too easy, and with the nature of cricket, that’s something that will never change. “It’s just a few bad balls,” of course. “It won’t make a difference,” obviously. “Just do this small favour for all of this money”. Preying on the weak is easy for those who have no morals or no conscience and that’s something that’s never going to change.

Of course, in India, betting on cricket isn’t legal, but it still happens and while many have said that legalising it or at least regulating it will solve the problem, it’s highly unlikely. Why would you want to earn $100 000 when you can quadruple that figure?

Cricket has too much potential to be corrupt and no matter how many rules and regulations are implemented, you cannot rid the game of its biggest flaw: humans. Humans are inherently flawed, some more than others, and many have their arms twisted far too easily. Authorities can put measures in place to curb the corruption, but stop it all completely? Not a chance.

Even with such damning odds, though, cricket will be just fine. It has survived many scandals in the past, it has survived wars and it will survive the corruption because the game is bigger than that and there are enough good guys left who want to make a difference and who want to keep on playing the game for the right reason.

Those who had any sort of faith left in the IPL,will be left feeling hard done by. Heartbroken and frustrated and some will even go as far as to swear off any association with it, but that’s an emotional overreaction.

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, one of the arrested players, has finally denied the allegations and the rest are being investigated, it’s likely to take some time before we really know what happened. There’s a lot of talk about a rather messy web of connections from Bollywood stars to dodgy bookies, but as it stands, it’s all just talk.  Nothing has been proven yet.

Many called it “another sad day for cricket”, but it isn’t. If the allegations are true - which will take time to prove - and it has rid the game of some bad apples, it’s actually a happy day.

Whenever a bomb like this drops on cricket, everybody is quick to say that the game can’t continue to be knocked down, when actually, a bit of housekeeping once ever-so-often isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Ant Sims is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

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