The dubious developments, both on and off the cricket field during the last one-decade or so, have brought the glorious game within the ambit of accusation, innuendoes, inquiries and investigations. This is certainly a ‘big backlash’, not only for the game but for the reputation of the players and their patrons too. The villain of piece is none else but ‘macabre money’, the glory glitter of which has blinded many an upright player to fall into the trap and get mauled sooner than anticipated.
If the axiom ‘Money makes the mare go’ has begun to cast its sinister spell over almost all modes or mores of morality, it is time to feel candidly concerned about the shape of things to come.
The gentleman’s game has fallen into the horrendous hands of bookie; for whom cricket should no longer be decided on the batting pitch, but in the ‘betting back – room’ of some five star hotel. What hare come to be linked with some cricketers is in way a matter of pride and pleasure, but a subject of deep deliberation and discussion.
Before it is too late to mend the matters, the cricket boards and others in the cricket playing countries should see to it that the unscrupulous bookies match fixers do not, like vultures, consume the cricket culture that a majority of players, and their admirers, have nursed and nourished over a long period of time.
In history there was a generation, which believed that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. But today’s cricketing world, with its floodlights, colored clothes, white balls, black side screens, location in the desert, and numbers of cameras, including one hovering over the ground, commercial breaks and the huge influx of money have evolved rules of its own, not all of which answer to the description of cricket as a gentleman’s game.
Besides betting, some very reputed players have confessed to being paid for providing information to a bookie about the pitch and the weather, conclusively indicating that the rot has run deep. For years those who have raised the specter of match fixing have been dubbed or described as conspiracy theorists, for they have never gone beyond allegation and insinuation.
The malaise of mortality on the slide, and money calling the shots, is not confined to the cricket world alone. In a world where “things are falling apart”, awful abbreviations in the domain of games and sports have brought about a sordid scenario.
Everything may be fair in love and wars but as far as morality over money, excellence over expediency and commitment over compromise in strict adherence to sportsmanship and healthy competition are concerned, no laxity or apathy can be allowed to run down the long established practices and precedents.
The fear of excessive sponsorship of games and sports hijacking the spirit of great sporting events looms large over the already falling ethical, moral standards among many a player and sports person. Between money and morality, it is the former that has occupied the center stage. If this trend is allowed to continue, the day is not far off when cases of criminal conspiracy in games and sports will become a routine affair.
The cricketing boards, whose sole interest now seems to be to make as much money as possible, should concentrate on ascertaining why such degeneration has taken place. It is only because of the excessive money that flows into the game?
Or it is because the players’ careers are being so threatened by the increasing number of manipulations that they are tempted to make some extra money at the cost of morality, to lay aside for the future? That will be a sad day indeed when the game of cricket is reduced to the level of an object activity, meant to become rich overnight by hook or crook. It will be a most damning reflection, both on the game and its glorious past, if it loses its pristine purity; on the players and their integrity and above all on the vulnerability of human character.