I am saddened. The foundation of my fancy for cricket has taken a beating. It's shaken up, still jarring as I speak. Not because the game is in disrepute, but because the attempts to disinfect it are obtuse. It's a façade, so to speak. Fraudulent attempts by shallow men wearing veils of hypocrisy to get away scot-free. Unfortunately, the spinal cord of our cricketers hasn't stimulated their brain stem. And that's hurting amid this humiliating episode.
It's awfully convenient to say, "The show must go on". But dear elite, be careful when you say that. Be very careful about it after selling your vocal cords to the BCCI, after filing for amnesties, after bargaining contract fees and extensions, after being helped onto ICC committees, after getting vice presidencies in the chief's company and so on. That makes your ambassadorial comments nothing but 'His Master's Voice' and makes you a disappointing bunch for the fans: a gutless bunch that puts money over the game.
No doubt you are behind our countless smiles. You are the reason for a student to get over a disappointing exam; you are the reason to unite families in front of TV sets moments after a heated argument; your wins have made patients in hospital beds feel better; you brought people out of religious divides to celebrate in harmony. But as I point that out, I must also reiterate that if you helped the game enter the heart of every Indian, it is you more than anybody else who we expect to be the game's real wardens.
But so far in this current challenge to save Indian cricket's honour, they appear nothing but puppets strung to an iron fist. All they can do is bat straight; they can't talk straight, or not allowed to, if I may add.
It's hard to believe a cricketer stays in a different hotel and his legendary captain is not aware of the breach. It's even harder to digest that three players - who are mostly in the playing XI - are cooking fish and nobody smells it. Did they have a sniff but still remained silent? Is that what the game taught them - to save themselves first and let the game go to dogs? Legends - really?
Many may not agree with the example of the man I'm going to cite here. He's never been slave to anybody's whims and fancies. That's precisely the reason for the BCCI to alienate Bishan Singh Bedi. He won't take shit from any Tom, Dick or Harry.
"Cricket is an institution and it is being battered left, right and centre. The administrators will never clean it up. How can dirty people clean the dirt? We cricketers are to be blamed for this. We fall prey invariably to the manipulation of business people, politicians, bureaucrats. That is how crooked climbers get on top of shoulders and get what they want - and not what cricket wants." That's what Bedi told a news daily in no uncertain terms.
I can't think of one cricketer, present or former, who can match Bedi's moral fibre, even though I admit he goes a bit too far at times. But in this case, there's nothing wrong to come out in defence of the sport you once played being taken hostage by crooked interests. In fact, it's your duty to do so.
But unfortunately, cricket continues to sob - like an abandoned parent in an old age home. Where are her children?