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|July 28, 2000||
I spy, with my little eye...Sujata Prakash
What an eventful week it's been. We have Pakistan -- not particularly forthcoming in the bright ideas department -- coming up with a splendid idea. As a move to counter match-fixing, the PCB has announced that a spy will now be co-opted, and apart from the job description of this newest entrant to the game, nothing else will be conveyed to the team members, they won't even know who the mole is.
Now, I might have my doubts about the detecting abilities of cricketers, but it seems to me that the FBI wouldn't have to be called in to figure out the identity of the sleuth. Lets say the team goes to Singapore and while idling away time, a player decides to Guess Who. So he discounts the players, the manager, the coach and the physio. No, wait, he doesn't discount the physio, because he's just realized that the man has changed from white to brown and what's more, sports a thick, unruly moustache. Ok, that was a joke. The physio remains the same, but there's a suspiciously friendly team member who doesn't seem to be doing anything except hanging around everyone. Or, there's a guest at the hotel, he stays on the same floor as the players and gets in everyone's way. Amazingly, he's spotted in Toronto too, and doing the very same thing he was in Singapore. By the time the team reaches Sharjah, even the slowest-reacting player has begun to think he's seen the guy somewhere before.
Unless of course, there's a new spy for every tour. Which has it's own hazards. Not the least would be finding more than three grade-A spies, as the rest have already all been hired by the ISI to infiltrate the border.
Seriously though, if this plan can be implemented, it could, as I mentioned, turn out to be a splendid idea for the subcontinent. The Indian players are about to have a code of conduct rammed down their throats, which will effectively stop them from conducting anything but the game of cricket, and some bed-time reading comprising more codes of conduct. However, as a nation we have proved to be undependable when following rules. So what's the guarantee that players will not cheat, and break every code in the book? Spying would stop that. Imagine if India loses a game and the headlines next day read: ' Ganguly sleepwalks through the match! Credible sources tell us he was signing autographs for the bell-boy past midnight!'
In India's case, I strongly recommend the BCCI get a scriptwriter too. One of the funniest statements in recent times came from Jagmohan Dalmiya, after his offices and home was raided. He said that (as best as I can remember) he welcomes the Income tax Department's offensive intrusions into his business if it was meant to clean up the glorious game of cricket, but not if it was a case of man-fixing. Judging by the reports of the IT having found substantial amounts of unaccounted wealth, I guess what he meant by that statement was akin to having Ted Bundy say, ' If you're hanging me because I'm bad than it's okay, but if you're doing it just to be nasty then it's not.'
Elaborating further, he stated that the game was too big to get bogged down by these controversies. Oh yes? In case he hasn't noticed, the bogging is all but complete.
All in all, it's been a week of reckoning for the cricketers. Just when they reckoned things couldn't get worse, things did. And how. Homes broken into, bathrooms examined and commented on, wardrobe contents fingered and labels noted, lots of tough talking by all concerned and, for Kapil Dev, the ignominy of seeing a whole chapter dedicated to him being unceremoniously excised from a text book in Gujarat. Approriately enough, in the now-deleted chapter, he had described himself as a naughty child who once stole a police horse.
I just hope we don't see the floodlights at the cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, refurbished by his company Dev Mesco, being taken down and given to the lowest bidder in order to teach him a lesson.
It has also been a week of bemused reactions from certain sections of the public. For some, there's a sense of unease at seeing yesterday's heroes degenerating into zeroes. We've been baying for blood all along, but now, confronted with it, some of us seem to be doing a rethink, and wondering if we need blood after all. Of course justice must be done, but then you read how the greatest cricketer this country has produced (hint: he had his club locker busted) donated his cricket bat to an aspiring Australian track star, and other small kindnesses. And we think -- at least, some of us do -- that surely, this man can't be in the same league as a petty criminal?
I don't know about cricket, but are we big enough not to get bogged down by all these controversies?
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