Distressed by the news of Mumbai cricketer Hiken Shah’s alleged fixing approach, India’s former captain bemoans the disintegration of values which the sport stood for
Bishan Singh Bedi never tires of slamming the Indian Premier League (IPL) which he feels promotes greed and not the values of his beloved game.
Yesterday, as the cricket world was stunned by the news of yet another player -- Mumbai's Hiken Shah -- being named in a spot fixing controversy, Bedi spoke from the heart about how the values of cricket have gone for a toss: "The IPL is corroding the values of the game. This game stands for integrity. The very fact that the BCCI had to create an anti-corruption unit shows that something is wrong here and your game is in trouble. You can't prevent greed. It's like this, if you are caught, you are a thief. If you escape, you are a champion. That's the formula which is being applied."
Bedi reckoned that the Hiken Shah incident is the tip of the iceberg. "Tell me, which wing of the BCCI is spreading the gospel of integrity well? This must start from the top. I am willing to accept that the IPL is a business proposition for the BCCI, the franchises and media. For any business to sustain, it must have a principle before looking for profits. But here, there is no principle, only profits and profits. It starts with the word doom."
Bedi even spoke about the history of cricket and how it all began as a pastime in England.
"Cricket was created as a social medium -- to interact, to share, to feel good about yourself in the times of financial strife in England. Anybody, who didn't play it when he was fit to do so, was considered a social outcast. Cricket is directly associated with honesty and that is why when controversies like these hit the game, we say, 'it's just not cricket'. Cricket was not meant to be a crime. You don't simply play this game with bat and ball; you live it. I shudder to think where we are heading." The conversation then veered towards Sir Don Bradman, a personality whom Bedi believes epitomised honesty. "I remember Bradman was asked to describe in one word how he would like to be remembered, and he said, "integrity." I had goosebumps. It was very captivating. How many cricketers can say that?"
Letters to Bradman
Bedi recalled the time when he and Bradman wrote letters to each other. "I wrote a letter to him when I was in Pakistan in 1978 requesting him to write a piece for my benefit souvenir. He wrote back saying that he had heard a rumour about me joining Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket and said in no uncertain terms that if I joined, he wouldn't have anything to do with me. I wrote, saying that I had been approached for World Series Cricket in three countries -- England, Australia and Pakistan -- and I was not convinced. I added that I would not allow Packer to fire his financial gun from my shoulder. His next letter to me was an article he had done for my souvenir -- a study on the impact of finger spinners over 100 years in Australia -- and he fit me in there. I still have that letter."
Back to the IPL. Bedi is not convinced about the tournament being good for cricket: "I have tried my hardest to accept it, but my conscience doesn't agree.
"This is a source of entertainment but I view it as pulling down of the concept of cricket.
The late Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies once said that the world would be a happier place to live in had America and Russia played cricket. That says