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BCCI probe panel's clean chits won't be taken seriously by those who care about the sport

It seems to have taken just eight weeks for the BCCI's probe panel to crack open the Indian Premier League spot-fixing cases. So should the BCCI be applauded for this remarkable show of urgency and efficiency, for clearing the air around a trend that poses perhaps the biggest threat to world cricket today? Not quite. The verdict hands a collective clean chit to the men who haven't yet been cleared by the police or courts. In the bargain, it air-brushes their influence on the two franchises under the scanner Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.

Several questions are raised by this inadequate inquest undertaken by two BCCI-appointed retired judges. But they are all subsidiary to the core query: If the verdict was foretold, what took them so long? Why did it take two months in coming? With no policing powers, no detectives at their disposal and no interaction with the two tainted IPL dugout regulars, Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, the panel was spectacularly unarmed to deal with the spot-fixing monster. Not surprising then, that they could barely scratch the scandal's surface. To be sure, for BCCI bigwigs, "Operation Cover-up" is a success, the dirt has been swept back under the carpet. This is an old trick the BCCI has employed at opportune moments. Taking its cue from politics, the cricket board's crisis management drill has included the setting up of a commission and announcement of a few superficial changes as a ploy to buy time. So, after IPL 6, when the spot-fixing cloud had once again settled over cricket, cheerleaders were banned, and late-night parties too. When that didn't blunt the edge of the all-round criticism, BCCI president N. Srinivasan "stepped aside" till the end of the probe. In the wake of his son-in- law's arrest, that was his attempt to stave off the pressure for his resignation, while appearing to respond to the calls for propriety and accountability. The probe panel's clean chit now appears to pave the way for his return to the helm.

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