David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Dirty laundry gets another airing

Narainswamy Srinivasan. Photo / AP
Narainswamy Srinivasan. Photo / AP

Wonderful to have the Indian Premier League back among us for a seventh edition.

And what's more it's not even in India in its early stages. Instead the first 20 games are being played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, those hotbeds of propriety when it comes to, shall we say, issues adjacent to the playing of the game.

At a time when the IPL is under the closest scrutiny after spot fixing, arrests and betting shenanigans, what better choice is there - having had to find an alternative venue to avoid a clash with the Indian elections - than the United Arab Emirates.

It is generally accepted the gambling malaise which has done so much damage to the game, began there. And should anyone think it's gone, that finger wagging from cricket's bosses has stamped that out, you're dreaming.

Behind the glitz, the IPL is a grubby competition puffed by its own self hype out of all proportion to its actual worth.

The T20 competition is being played out with Indian Supreme Court activity over how the IPL has handled, or mishandled, its biggest scandal.

Three Rajastham Royals players were caught in alleged spot fixing last year. Two, including former international Sreesanth, have been banned for life.

Rajasthan captain, Shane Watson, has happily claimed "a couple of bad apples" had been removed. Ergo, all is well was the sub-text.

Chennai Super Kings coach, the former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, admitted "there are a lot of distractions". Which might be an understatement considering the courts have been pondering whether to suspend the franchise owned by India's highest profile and most controversial administrator, N. Srinivasan. His son-in-law was arrested on charges of cheating, forgery and fraud before last year's final.

Srinivasan, remember, is behind the Big Three takeover of world cricket and set to become the International Cricket Council boss.

Now the Indian courts won't reinstate Srinivasan as India's board president. He was replaced by former batting hero and now IPL commentator Sunil Gavaskar as acting president, and how's that for a conflict of interests.

What a viper's nest. Still, the show must go on, so the lights, screeching music and garishness of the IPL are all in place.

New Zealand has already had a couple of players in action in the first two matches.

Corey Anderson made two and took none for 33 in three overs on debut for the Mumbai Indians as they got Kallis'd by Kolkata Knight Riders; and yesterday Ross Taylor's unbeaten 43 wasn't enough to save Delhi Daredevils against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

There is plenty to dislike about the IPL. When Chennai's, and India's, captain MS Dhoni was asked the other day "How will you ensure a clean game of IPL this year?" he replied, "We'll try the laundry, that's good, will keep us clean."

That sort of smart alec attitude doesn't help. The perception of the IPL as a tournament which operates by its own rules and belongs in a dark corner of the game, only grows.

- NZ Herald

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