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Drugs, parties and cricket

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Minutes after the probe panel's report went public, a top BCCI official chose to look at the bright side of things. "The good thing the Supreme Court has done is that the IPL auction has not been stopped. It will happen as planned for all the teams in Bangalore (on February 12 and 13)," he said.

Now answer this: were you pleased or disgusted when you heard/read about this development (it was on TV around noon)? Much as we lose our cool when N Srinivasan defends Gurunath Meiyappan or, for that matter, when Raj Kundra acts like an innocent cowboy, the truth is that all this has so far not weaned any interest away IPL.

From late-night parties to unpaid cheerleaders, from tax issues to foreign exchange violations, from betting charges to fixing allegations, the IPL has always been mired in controversy. Alas, it's this very potent mixture called 'cricketainment' that enhances the popularity of the league.

"Controversy is a part of the format of the IPL. In fact, controversy is the middle name of the league," says brand manager Harish Bijoor. "The IPL is irreverent cricket and not like five-day cricket that is played in whites. It is a masala mix of not only what happens on the pitch but also off it, including the parties, cheerleaders and more. It is not a game, it is cricketainment," he adds. "People are keen to know what is the next big controversy. Bigger the controversy, the merrier it is."

According to Bijoor, diehard cricket fans felt cheated when the spot-fixing allegations came to light. "None of the controversies will affect the popularity of the league. But when you talk of match fixing, it hurts people. If it is proved, then people will feel cheated and get angry," he says.

Former India cricketer and now a politician, Kirti Azad, has long been a critic of the IPL and he minces no words. "A lot of politicians, who want to convert their black money into white, are involved in the IPL.

"It is an ideal platform for people to stay in the news. Why are there drugs, rave parties, controversies, spot-fixing etc only in the IPL? Unless it doesn't have patronage. There is no way this can happen."

The BCCI, on the other hand, says the credibility of the IPL hasn't been affected. "Whatever happens, people still love the game. Many things happens in football, too, but people still follow it keenly.

Unfortunately controversies are a part of every sport. Every game has its critics and there will be controversies too," says Niranjan Shah, a former BCCI vice-president and an ex-member of the IPL governing council.

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