It's funny, isn't it? The highest court in the land appoints a committee headed by a retired judge of unimpeachable integrity. The committee submits a scathing report against the men who involved with the world's richest cricket league. Why, it even stops short of naming the national skipper of serious wrongdoing. Mediapersons and conscience-keepers go into overdrive. The stakeholders keep mum. The fans feel cheated. But none of this affects the men who run the show.
Less than 48 hours after the Mudgal Committee report confirmed that our fears weren't unfounded — anything but — a galaxy of star owners and BCCI officials will make their presence felt at the ITC Gardenia here on Wednesday and Thursday. Worse, they will act as though nothing has happened. They will come with the pockets full, splash their cash and go back happier. Actually, it's not funny.
IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal was quick to dismiss the notion that the cloud of match-fixing or the revelations of the report will have any bearing on the auction. In fact, he chose to ignore it altogether.
"Don't you know the Supreme Court has given us the go-ahead to conduct the auction?" he thundered.
The BCCI bigwigs love to go by the rule book whenever its suits them. But more often than not, they sidestep them. For all you know, Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty will be present at the auction table. Because if they are not, then you'd probably suspect them of wrongdoing.
Interestingly enough, the IPL governing council will hold a series of meetings — formal and informal — before and after the auction. And curiously enough, a few franchises, however tight-lipped, are hoping that Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are brought to book come March 7 when the Supreme Court will make its observations after accepting or rejecting the Mudgal report.
Now, given that the panel has found Gurunath Meiyyapan and, to some extent, Kundra-Shetty of wrongdoing, what happens to the two franchises? If push indeed comes to shove, then the GC will have to go by the rulebook. And it says that "a franchise can be terminated with immediate effect by written notice if the franchisee, any franchisee group company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the franchisee, the team (or any other team in the league) and/or the game of cricket". Food for thought, really?
The franchises are more interested in what happens to MS Dhoni and the other marquee players who would be without a team. What they forget is Dhoni is himself no longer above all suspicion.
On to some mundane business and the auction is likely to see some heavy bidding for the likes of Kevin Pietersen, who doesn't have a country to play for, and newbies like Corey Anderson and Quinton de Kock.
For the first time in all these years, the word 'rupees' will be heard instead of 'dollars'. Wonder how Richard Madley, the auctioneer from Bristol, will make the adjustment as he puts a whopping 514 players through the test.
Mumbai Indians, Chennai and Rajasthan have retained five players each and that means they won't have too much money to spend on the marquee players. Each of these sides will have to make do with Rs 21 crore to pick, say, 18 to 20 players.
No such problems for Delhi Daredevils, the GMR-owned franchise going for a complete overhaul. With chief coach Gary Kirsten and mentor TA Sekar at the table, it would be fair to expect them to make a few big buys. That they have a full purse of Rs 60 crore will certainly help.
The auction could be a make or break of sorts for Virender Sehwag and, to some extent, Yuvraj Singh, two players who haven't exactly enjoyed the national selectors' confidence. Both are part of the 16-member marquee list and carry a base price of Rs 2 crore.
Whichever player — capped and uncapped (another novelty) — makes a killing or goes unsold, whispers of 'Mudgal' will be heard all over the place. Or that it would matter to the stars and starlets, owners and officials. Let the tamasha begin, then.