take two

This Master’s Voice

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Sunil Gavaskar owes it to his many admirers to not be so strangely muted on the IPL scam.

During last year’s IPL in South Africa, Sunil Gavaskar uttered these words while commentating: “That’s the beauty of Lalit Modi.” 

It is not a crime to compliment Modi. Whatever his faults, he has valuable skills that kept a lot of people employed and entertained. But this was more than a compliment. It was gushy propaganda about a smart but far from spotless character with criminal cases against him in India and overseas. It was unbecoming of a legend and senior statesman like Gavaskar to eulogise him on air. 

Cut to IPL 2010. It was the third edition of the tournament, yet the most ground-breaking. Modi, despite his beauty, stands suspended. A Union minister, also known for his beauty, was forced to resign. There must be few sports events in history that triggered upheaval within their own administration as well as the central Government. Yet, Gavaskar, a member of the IPL Governing Council and a prolific columnist with powerful news organisations, has written just about a paragraph on the issue (the preceding two paras were rants against the media and IPL-bashers). 

Last Sunday, Gavaskar wrote that the cricketers within the governing council trusted the financial experts and vice versa. But he did not go into details, which was unfair to his readers and the Indian public. As Indian cricket’s most influential (and caustic) columnist, it is his responsibility to write on matters of urgency. Why, then, has he not done justice to a matter of such significance and about which he is much in the know? 

Earlier, MAK Pataudi, Gavaskar’s colleague on the governing council, sounded a little more frank and contrite, even calling the council a “failure”.  “It [the governing council] has been a failure certainly because we should have been more aware of what is happening,” Pataudi said in a television interview. “We should have been doing the questioning, but we didn’t because everything seemed okay. We were all carried away by how well he (Modi) was doing.” 

Gavaskar is not morally bound to comment on the IPL’s financial aspects. But he owes us in-depth answers to some of the questions in our minds. What has been the cricketers’ role in the council? Who employs them as commentators? If it is the IPL, does not this come in the way of honest analysis? What about Modi’s style of functioning, one of the counts on which he was suspended? Surely, you don’t have to be a financial expert to understand rules of professional and decorous conduct. 

One hopes the original Little Master reveals to us what is our right to know and does not see an enemy in those who only demand a few answers.