Two former BCCI presidents — Shashank Manohar and IS Bindra — lashed out at incumbent N Srinivasan, called for the IPL to be suspended and expressed shock over the board's decision to take the league to Sharjah, the "hotbed of fixing".
"The Supreme Court's observation is that there are very, very serious allegations made in the report (submitted in a "sealed cover" by the Mukul Mudgal Committee) and unless the BCCI president steps down, no fair probe can be conducted," said Manohar, who headed the world's richest cricket board from 2008 to 2011.
Dubbed 'Mr Clean' and 'the best president the BCCI has ever had', the Nagpur-based lawyer used to hitch a ride on Srinivasan's (then BCCI secretary) private jet. No longer on the same page, Manohar has blasted his one-time buddy.
"I had said long back, when the scandal broke, that all IPL matches should be investigated. I feel that a thorough probe needs to be done by CBI as the canvas of the activities extends throughout the country. In view of the serious allegations, regarding betting, spot fixing and match fixing, the public at large has lost its faith in IPL games," Manohar added.
Rumour has it that Manohar is not averse to taking over as BCCI president, but his only demand is that everybody must stand by him. He doesn't want politics and he certainly doesn't want a contest. If and when Srinivasan steps down or steps aside — depending on what the court's verdict is — Manohar would like to step in. But for that to happen, a full member of the South Zone has to propose his name. Last heard, the South Zone — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra, Hyderabad and Goa — was Srinivasan's bastion.
Manohar went on, "Considering the latest developments in the BCCI, it is my considered opinion that until the faith of the people in the integrity of the game is restored, the IPL tournament for the year 2014 should be suspended."
He also threw light on the BCCI's age-old decision not to stay away from the Gulf. "Many years back, a conscious decision was taken by the BCCI to abstain from matches in the Middle East in view of certain information regarding rampant betting and match fixing. As far as I know, that decision has not been revoked. Due to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the decision to shift IPL matches to the Middle East will further tarnish the already murky waters surrounding the tournament. I had already said earlier that all IPL matches should first be investigated and only then can all the erring parties be punished and the clean up initiated. What has been lately revealed could well be the tip of the iceberg," Manohar said.
Bindra, a member of the old guard, heads the Punjab Cricket Association. He was BCCI president from 1993 to 1996. "It's a moment of shame for us to see the game gaining such disrepute across the globe for a single man's (Srinivasan) obsession with power. It is time for all of us involved in the sport; all the stakeholders of the game in the country to take a call and express our displeasure at the way the game is being administered," he said.
"What stung me most was the use of the word 'nauseating' by the apex court in describing BCCI and its chief, Srinivasan. If that is not reason enough for someone to be ashamed, I wonder what is? It has been over 24 hours and the BCCI and its chief have taken no action as yet. What surprises me even more is the fact that there has been no murmur from the top brass in the BCCI. Yes, there have been statements from the BCCI vice-presidents but they are too open-ended. The inaction by the BCCI top brass reflects Srinivasan's shamelessness to stick to his chair. How else would you explain the defiance by the man? He is surely worried about the skeletons in the cupboard tumbling out if and when he departs. Why else would he be resisting stepping down after being castigated by the Supreme Court?"
Bindra brought up the issues raised y Manohar. "Why hold IPL in the hotbed of fixing, Sharjah? As BCCI president and later as a senior member I was party to the boycott of the venue, which I believed was the epicenter of nefarious activities in cricket. In a policy announcement, the government of India had refused permission to the Indian cricket team to play in Sharjah and advised the BCCI not to participate in these 'non-regular venues', especially Sharjah. I think, we still have time and we can still pull matches out of Sharjah. This IPL provides a backdoor entry for Sharjah to be accepted by one and all. IPL needs an urgent cleansing process. It requires a concerted effort from the top to bottom. But it seems that there is just no will to cleanse the sport or improve the image of the tournament," Bindra said.
"I wholeheartedly support Shashank Manohar's suggestion to cancel IPL 7 this year till the mess is cleaned up. We can re-assemble in 2015 once the tournament is cleared of the unwanted elements. With so many doubts and questions around the tournament's integrity, the players and officials' integrity, it is better to not have the tournament this year. I am all for this solution but Mr Srinivasan are you ready for it? Above all Mr Srinivasan, are you able to see the writing on the wall? Quit before you drag Indian cricket down the gutter along with yourself," he signed off.