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T20 must be taken seriously, it cannot be dismissed as a seasonal affliction
In the last week of the Indian Premier League's sixth season, even if Sreesanth had not disturbed the self-congratulatory tenor of the extravaganza, there are questions that had to be asked. But now that he and his two fellow offenders have burst the bubble, one has fascinatingly been put in sharp relief. With the BCCI and former players in agreement — and unexceptionably so — that, were the allegations of spot-fixing to stick, his record should be expunged from all forms of the game, it begs the question: what in fact is the contribution of an IPL match to a cricketer's overall record?
Of course, in a team sport, it is difficult to settle the issue of how a player's predeterminedly poor performance may have altered the contribution of the rest. (Alas, the bookmaker's inducement to influence a player's contribution on the day cannot really work on the demand for a match-winning feat.) After all, in, say, a 100-metre event, if the athlete placed second were to be proved to have run an unclean race, that spot would be retrospectively awarded to the competitor placed third, and so on. It is not that easy to settle in a team effort, and the expunging would leave a ghostly absence in a match summary.
But that's about Sreesanth and his career stats. Much of the commentary on spot-fixing has focused on how the IPL format, with its match or two a day, is predisposed to such illegal efforts. It is not clear that such a line of inquiry would, in any way, yield anything useful — throwing away a match or an over or a wicket is a transgression that requires such low regard for one's sport that blaming it on the IPL and Twenty20 format is simply evasive. To steel sportspersons to rebuff the temptation requires altering the ecosystem of the entire sport, not just by active vigilance, but also by reviving the spirit of mentoring from the amateur era so that they value what they play, whatever be the level of competition.