cricket crazy nation


With one of the most riveting seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL) ending with a bang almost a month earlier (yes, it has been that long), I assumed cricket fans might have had to return to a humdrum life full of lackluster amidst the dearth of content around the league. Read on to discover some of the ugliest controversies delivered by the world’s most celebrated T20 league!

Though this might be an exaggeration, the two months across which the IPL spans is arguably the most exhilaratingly gripping time of the year for not just fans but cricket viewers in general, keeping them on the edge of their seats (all credits to the IPL scriptwriters). While cricket lies at the heart of the game, the league carries with it a fair share of bizarre controversies and scandals. Though this might be an exaggeration, the two months across which the IPL spans is arguably the most exhilaratingly gripping time of the year for not just fans but cricket viewers in general, keeping them on the edge of their seats (all credits to the IPL scriptwriters). While cricket lies at the heart of the game, the league carries with it a fair share of bizarre controversies and scandals.

1. The Delhi boys meet in Lucknow

Nearly 10 years after their viral spat in 2013, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir reunited in the latest edition of the league for a dramatic recreation of their heated exchange. The tension began when Gambhir, a mentor to Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), was seen shushing the crowd post a one-wicket nail-biting victory against
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the latter’s home ground. The 2 teams met again in Lucknow where the altercation began with a fiery chat between Kohli and LSG’s Naveen-ul-Haq mid-match, both of whom lost their cool again during the post-match customary handshakes. Soon enough, LSG opener Kyle Mayers’ exchange
with Kohli triggered Gambhir to step in and profanities were thrown around as players from both teams intervened to prevent the fight from getting further. Both players were fined 100% of their match fees for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct. So, despite them claiming they are “good friend” on and off the field, their juvenile brawls every now and then are the perfect reminder of how animosities like these are set in stone!


Kohli and Gambhir- 20 days apart!

2. The OG ‘Slapgate’
You are wrong if you think Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars was the original Slapgate- Bhaji did it  first! The first-ever IPL controversy during the inaugural season of the league in 2008, despite never being captured on camera, took no time to hit the headlines. Losing to Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) extended Mumbai Indians’ (MI) losing streak to 3, which undoubtedly created tension for their new skipper Harbhajan Singh, who was leading the team in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. Allegedly, post an easy win, KXIP’s S.Sreesanth approached his national teammate Singh with a cheeky smile and muttered “hard luck”, which was taken by the latter in the wrong intention and triggered a physical altercation. The details of what went down remain a blur, but Sreesanth was seen crying inconsolably on live TV while Bhaji faced a ban from the remaining matches of the season for “unprovoked assault”.

A tearful Sreesanth breaking down after being slapped by Singh.

3.  Bade Bade Shehron Mein Aisi Choti Choti Baatein Hoti Rehti Hai?
India’s heartthrob and the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan is famous among the masses for his charm, wit, and poise. However, after Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) beat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the enthralling 2012 IPL final, an allegedly drunk SRK got into a verbal scuffle with the security officials of the Maharashtra Cricket
Association (MCA). The actor, denying any misconduct, stated that he only reacted after his kids were “manhandled” by the security staff, who also abused him first. After the incident, going all “Don ka stadium mein ghusna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai,” the MCA managing committee put a 5-year ban prohibiting King Khan, co-owner of KKR, from entering the Wankhede Stadium-the venue of the final. Later, the actor issued an apology and served the ban faithfully for 3 years, until it was lifted in 2015.

SRK slapped with a 5-year ban from the iconic Wankhede stadium.

4. Jade-ja or na ja?
Ravindra Jadeja, despite a nearly controversial season this year, played an integral role in Chennai bagging their 5th IPL trophy. Rewind to 2008 when even after having a stupendous season with Rajasthan Royals(RR), and being labeled a “superstar in the making” by legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne, he found himself amidst a huge controversy. Considering his brilliant performance, the franchise insisted on signing him for the next 2 years but Jaddu agreed to continue with them for only one. However, he was also found to be negotiating with other IPL franchises for higher pay and more lucrative deals (allegedly looking for a possible ‘Gateway’). This violated the code of conduct, according to which, he could only do this if RR- who had the first right to refusal- let him go. The emerging star was found guilty of indulging in ‘anti-team activities’ by the IPL Governing Council, which slapped a one-year ban prohibiting him from participating in the 2011 season.

Jadeja credited Warne for giving him a huge platform during the
inaugural season.

5. And the ‘Mankading’ begins!
Ravichandran Ashwin attempting another ‘Mankad’ this season and escaping a scandal by a hairbreadth is proof that old habits die hard. However, he was not as fortunate in 2019 when the actions of the Indian off-spinner, then captain of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), were frowned upon by the cricketing fraternity. Jos Butler, with an impressive 69 off 43 balls was leading Rajasthan Royals (RR) towards a high-scoring victory until he was dismissed by Ashwin, who seemingly stopped in his bowling action waiting for the non-striker to exit the crease and knock the stumps out. Even as the umpires asked the bowler to reconsider on grounds of ethicality, Ashwin, who claimed that he had given multiple warnings did not abandon the appeal, which resulted in a fuming Butler taking a dejected walk back to the pavilion. Getting its name from Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad and though a perfectly legal way of dismissal, the action has for long been looked down upon as ‘unsportsmanlike’ and ‘going against the spirit of the game’.

‘Mankad’ has stirred a massive debate among cricket experts.

6. Lalit Modi ‘Sus’-pension
Hours after Chennai Super Kings bagged their first IPL trophy in 2010, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) shocked the entire cricket fraternity by sacking their Vice-President and IPL Chairman Lalit Modi on “alleged acts of individual misdemeanors.” Modi, who is often credited with the worldwide success of the league, was reportedly involved in rigging bids, bullying franchises, and money laundering during the franchise auction in 2010. He was also accused of selling broadcasting and internet rights without authorization. Modi denied all charges and soon fled to London, hence failing to appear in front of BCCI’s disciplinary committee.
Subsequently in 2013, finding him guilty of misconduct, the committee slapped him with a life ban, restricting him from any future involvement in cricket.

IPL Chairman sacked after being found guilty of misconduct.

7. The ‘Betting Rajas’
Indian pacer S.Sreesanth found himself entangled in yet another controversy; this time, however, on the receiving end of condemnation. In 2013, Delhi Police arrested 3 Rajasthan Royals (RR) players- Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan on charges of spot-fixing, and subsequently, they faced a life ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This triggered one of the most heartbreaking moments in the history of the IPL when fans had to witness the suspension of the two most loved teams- Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals-from the league in 2015. Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of CSK’s owner and then BCCI President N Srinivasan (who eventually resigned), and Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals were banned for life from being involved in cricket by a 3-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India. The 2 teams faced a 2-year suspension from the league, eventually making an exciting comeback in the 2018 season.

CSK and RR face consequences for being involved in match-fixing.

With all that goes on within the league, I am sure there will be a lot more than just cricket to watch out for in the upcoming season as well!

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Featured Image Credits: The Indian Express

Manvi Goel
[email protected]

With the Indian cricket team having dominated the sport for the last few decades, cricket enjoys a huge audience in the country. But obsession with one entity often leads to the negligence of other entities.

“Why is Connaught Place so empty today? It’s Sunday.” “India are playing Pakistan today. Everyone’s at home.” – overheard while strolling in the Inner Circle last year during the Cricket World Cup.

Players being worshipped as gods, thousands turning up to watch matches, millions across the country watching on television, crackers being burst after wins, effigies and posters being burnt after losses, cricket has surpassed the definition of a mere “game” or a “sport” in the country, cutting across caste and creed and rising to become a significant part of Indian culture. “Everyone wants a piece of them, to touch them, shake their hands, be seen with them, and introduce their kids to them”, is how ex-national team coach John Wright describes the Indian public’s adoration for its cricketers in his book Indian Summers.

With the sport wielding a great deal of power in the country, cricket has become a magnet for money. An enormous amount of money is exchanged between players and brands in the form of sponsorships and endorsements. Companies are ready to part with millions in order to sponsor tournaments and bilateral series’. Vivo bought the title sponsorship of the glamorous Indian Premier League for a whopping 2200 crore rupees. The powerful governing body of Indian cricket, the Board Of Control Of Cricket In India (BCCI) alone is worth in excess of 13000 crore rupees, a huge chunk of it coming from match broadcasting rights.

Pockets filled with money, the BCCI has left no stone unturned in setting up a thriving Indian cricket system, with the organisational structure going down to the grassroots. Thus there is no dearth of talent, and the country’s junior teams produce talented match winners every year. Cricket’s dominance in India has led to the dominance of India in cricket. Both are inter-related and sometimes, gains in the latter also lead to gains in the former.

Though it would be wrong to opine that other sports have a negligible presence across the nation – the country has produced numerous other successful sportspersons in a diverse range of sporting fields in its history – no other sport comes close in terms of the viewership and financial support that cricket enjoys in India. Football is popular in the country, but the majority of viewers tune in to watch European football and not Indian football. Most domestic league matches are played in near-empty stadiums and the national team languishes at 108th in the world rankings.

India’s dismal showings at the Olympics, with a tally of only 2 medals at the 2016 Rio Games, despite being the second most populated country in the world, is a proof of the considerable disparity between cricket and other sports in the country. Hockey, the national game, a sport in which the country tasted a significant amount of success in the last century, has dwindled greatly in popularity, with the national team not having won an Olympic medal since 1980. Sports like tennis, badminton, wrestling, shooting, chess, boxing are popular in many parts of the country but do not enjoy the mass pan-India viewership of cricket. “I have observed that a newspaper usually devotes two whole pages to cricket coverage while other sports are given half a page at the most”, said Urnavo Chakrabarty, a University Of Delhi student and a state level athlete.

Infrastructure significantly affects the progress of a sport. A sport which doesn’t enjoy mass viewership often lacks financial resources, which leads to limited infrastructure and equipment. Raw talent or potential is not enough to compete at the international level and good infrastructure, equipment and coaches are necessary to harvest this potential. As with cricket, the popularity of a sport in a country and the country’s performance in that particular sport are inter-related. The more popular a sport, the more the amount of revenue generated. Money is needed to bolster the cash strapped sports organizations in the country. And going vice versa, continued successes in a sport will assuredly boost its popularity.

There have been numerous initiatives to promote other sports in the country with the conception of franchise leagues, similar to the IPL model, and though many did not pan out successfully, some like the Pro Kabaddi League and the Indian Super League have garnered considerable – if not mass –  popularity and are a step in the right direction.

The obsession of the country’s public with cricket is not to be seen in a negative light, but this obsession should not act as a detriment to other sports. Other sports are equally interesting if advertised properly and if cricket can enjoy mass support and success, so can any other sport.

It would be a refreshing change to enquire about the emptiness of Connaught Place on a Sunday, and be told that it’s because the Indian hockey team is playing an Olympic final.

Featured Image Credits – ESPN CricInfo

Araba Kongbam

[email protected]