The tragic unfolding of the story of corruption, sleaze, match fixing and unleashing of money power in what was considered as a gentleman’s game has been one of the greatest tragedies in the game and betrayal of honest fans like us (probably the only honest person left  in the game in the current scenario).  If I were to sum it up in one sentence it would be “Death of the Gentleman’s Game and Dearth of Gentlemen in the game”.

I have been pondering with sadness, the slow poisoning of this great game that has hosted legends like Donald Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Vivian Richards. I still remember how in my younger days all of us would be cramped in our living room literally glued to the good old transistor to catch each and every word of the some of the great commentators of those days, giving us a vivid description of each and every ball being bowled or played. The excitement was of course the greatest when there was an India, Pakistan match or some of the flamboyant West Indians or Australians. There was always pin drop silence in the room and the only movement was moving the Murphy transistor or it’s aerial for better reception. I also  remember cricket fans travelling all the way from my home town Udupi to Bombay (Mumbai now) by night bus to watch a test match (Boring sometimes especially if someone like Barrington was playing), having skipped work for a week.

Obviously all this has changed with the advance of IPL where cricket has somewhere lost its way in the midst of glitz, glamour, cheerleaders and post match parties.

Certainly I am not against change, but not a change which comes at the cost of losing the essence and soul of the game. With the recent disclosures of rampant betting, corruption, match fixing and sleaze associated with the game it has almost become like WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) matches, where giant wrestlers go hammer and tongs at their opponents and the ultimate winner would have already been fixed even before the first whistle is blown.

Now when I watch any of these cricket matches I do not know what is real and what is fixed. Is the six or a boundary smashed a true prowess of the batsman or has it been gifted to the player by a bookie; is the wicket taken because of good bowling or is based on a subtle signal from the bookie, is a catch dropped because it was a difficult one or was it fixed by the match fixer?

Some justify this in the name of entertainment. If that were so then I would rather watch a make believe Bollywood block buster like Bang Bang or Dabaang than this match. Having said this I am glad that we still have many honest players; the solid citizens of the game and we Bangaloreans should be proud that our own legend Rahul Dravid is one of them.

It’s high time we restore the old glory of the game and the faith of the most important person who has kept the game alive; the poor gullible unsuspecting fan. Let us say good bye to the corruption, sleaze, punters/betters, bookies the corrupt administrators and players involved in destroying the reputation of this great game.

The only silver lining seems to be that once again our judiciary as always has come to our rescue and have taken this issue seriously and hopefully will clean up the mess. Let’s all of us, true fans of the game, get together and revive the great game of cricket.

Long live the game of honest cricket!

Dr. H Sudarshan Ballal, MD, FRCP(London)

Chairman – Med Adv Board & Medical Director – MHEPL,

Manipal Hospitals, 98, HAL Airport Road, Bangalore-560017

Email: s.ballal@manipalhospitals.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the writer and not of the hospital.

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