two barred from IPL over corruption
In a move that will have implications for the Indian Premier League careers of West Indians Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith, a committee today suspended India Cements and Jaipur IPL, the owners of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals teams, for a period of two years.
Both Bravo and Smith have highly lucrative contracts with the Chennai Super Kings.
The RM Lodha committee also banned for life Gurunath Meiyappan, a former team official of Super Kings, and Raj Kundra, a former Royals co-owner, from any involvement in cricket matches. The committee’s order effectively leaves the two companies with teams that cannot play. Super Kings have twice won the IPL, and are perennial tournament favourites, while Royals won the inaugural edition. The bans relate to illegal betting.
The onus is now on the BCCI and the two companies to work out the way forward, to decide whether the teams will be in a two-year limbo or play under different ownership.
The news sent officials of the two franchises, and also of the BCCI, which owns the IPL, into a series of meetings as they began to make sense of the judgement. The IPL governing council is likely to meet over the weekend, and the BCCI’s working committee might meet before that.
The IPL is the richest of the world’s Twenty20 cricket leagues. Top Indian and international players take part each spring. Chennai Super Kings are led by India skipper MS Dhoni, while the Royals are led by the Australian batsman Steve Smith.
In a brief statement Jagmohan Dalmiya, the BCCI president, said it was “committed to honour and respect judicial decisions and it would give its observations after the entire report is read and a collective decision is taken.”
Among the franchises, the initial sense was that both would appeal against the decision, though the sheer composition of this committee –– Lodha is a former Chief Justice of India and Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran are retired judges of the Supreme Court –– suggests any court would be wary of overturning the decision.
The committee, which made its report public in a 45-minute session in New Delhi, said its ruling was based on disciplinary grounds, on behalf of the BCCI. It refused to accept the argument that the acts of Gurunath and Kundra were personal, and that the franchises could thus not be held responsible.
“Disrepute has been brought to cricket, the BCCI and the IPL to such an extent that there are doubts abound in the public whether the game is clean or not,” Lodha, a former Chief Justice of India, said.
“Jaipur IPL claims it is highly celebrated as a nursery of players. But three of its players have been accused of alleged spot-fixing. This shows that all is not well in their handling of affairs. The position of Raj Kundra with the Rajasthan Royals franchise –– part owner and team official –– means his actions brought the game, BCCI and IPL into disrepute.”
Former High Court Judge Mukul Mudgal, who was part of the three-member probe panel which conducted an independent investigation into the corruption allegations, called the verdict a “temporary setback” for the IPL, but one that was taken for the “greater good” of cricket.
“I’m sorry, but if the franchise is banned, how can the team escape? So this has to happen,” Mudgal said. “It’s a consequence of some wrongdoing and it also sends a message all across, right to the top, don’t indulge in any wrong doing.
“Please remember however great it may be, however popular it may be, it’s about the game of cricket. And therefore in the long run it will benefit the IPL. There is a current feeling that all matches in the IPL are fixed, which is a totally wrong feeling. I can only think that this step will restore people’s confidence in the game of cricket and in the IPL.”
The panel was formed in January following an investigation by a separate committee into wrongdoing in the 2013 tournament.
Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and his former Rajasthan Royals team-mate Ankeet Chavan were banned for life by the BCCI after being arrested in May 2013 on suspicion of taking money to concede a minimum number of runs.
Last year the top court found Meiyappan, son-in-law of former Indian cricket board chief Narayanaswami Srinivasan, and Kundra, guilty on charges of betting and passing on information to illegal bookmakers.
Srinivasan, who has been banned from holding any post in India’s cricket board, where he served as president for three years from 2011, has a stake in Chennai Super Kings.