Maybe cricket should give the Indian Premier League the boot and T20 as a whole. Both are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
It won't happen, of course; Indian cricket power and money will see to that. The IPL is said to be worth US$4 billion as a business. Invented partly to gain cricket a younger audience, T20 has led many to say it has changed the game forever.
Yes, but maybe like Viagra changed heart disease; not in the way intended. Devised to help treat symptoms of heart disease, Viagra did little in the ticker territory but produced significant upheavals in the trouser department of patients trialling the little blue pill.
History may look back on T20 the same way. This week's suspension of two IPL teams for two years, Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, for illegal betting is proof yet again that this is a dodgy competition, the point of which appears not to be cricket but money. It has thrown the IPL into uncertainty — though most are betting (sorry, bad word ...) that the circus will continue with six teams instead of eight this year. It will also continue without the involvement of Chennai team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan co-owner Raj Kundra, both banned for life.
The future of the IPL would not have a large question mark over it if this was an isolated incident or controversy. But the IPL's been full of them.
• In May 2012, five players were suspended for spot-fixing
• In May 2013, three Rajasthan players, including Indian World Cup winner Sreesanth, were arrested and charged with spot fixing in a case still not yet decided
• Lalit Modi, the man who set up the original IPL, lives in London and will not return to India as he says the underworld will kill him.
• Over-dramatic? Consider then the case of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of India's junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor who was forced to resign in 2010 after he was accused of using his position to gain a free stake in one of the IPL teams, using Pushkar as an intermediary. Everyone denied everything but Tharoor resigned and Pushkar was found dead in a Delhi hotel last year — poisoned, with a murder investigation ongoing.
• Sundar Raman, IPL's chief operating officer, is also facing corruption charges being considered by the same judicial committee that passed judgement on the two franchises and officials.
• N. Srinivasan, the current chairman of cricket's world body ICC and the owner of the Chennai Super Kings, seems to have done his dash as one of cricket's most powerful men. Meiyappan is his son-in-law; Srinivasan was forced to stand down as President of India's cricket body, the BCCI, to ensure a fair investigation. Later, he was barred from standing for the BCCI but tried to ensure he still had fingers in the power pie by getting a proxy to stand instead. That was defeated and now, his power base shot, Srinivasan may well be ousted from his ICC post.
It's pretty difficult not to conclude from all this that corruption in Indian cricket has filled more trousers than Viagra ever did — and some pretty high-ranking trousers at that. But if you can look past the skulduggery, the T20 game itself is healthy, right?
Not really. Almost unnoticed in the wake of the IPL suspensions, the T20 Champions League has been ditched because of lack of interest — the international competition involving IPL teams and winners of national T20 competitions round the world.
The Auckland Aces, Otago Volts and the Northern Knights all played at various stages, none ever making it out of group stages.
The IPL may be facing a bleaker time of it outside India. True, in the UK about 500,000 people watched last year's final — up by about 100,000 over the previous year. But that was for the final and we don't know what ratings were like for earlier rounds.
People like me tuned in early on, curious to watch Brendon McCullum go nuts with the bat (he plays for Chennai, with Tim Southee of Rajasthan also unsure about his future with that franchise). Now? Couldn't care less.
The IPL seems only a way of allowing players to make truckloads of money (and national associations in the case of the Champions League) and it's become a bit like pornography. The six, cricket's batting jewel, becomes a lot less exciting when executed constantly — just like pornography where the first sight of people in sexual acts might be interesting but as a steady diet is a turn-off and proof of the old saying that less is more.
Certainly one-day cricket (400 is the new 300) and test cricket (where four-day tests are now being advocated) have benefited because of the T20-inspired faster scoring. But it has also given cricket a headache — how to balance the game so that bowlers are not mere fodder for the blazing bats. In today's low-attention-span, instant gratification society, T20's gimmickry may be palling and its time may be nigh even as the corruption reduces credibility.
Want to bet?