IPL does the right thing

Dwayne Bravo played a champion’s innings for the Mumbai Indians on Tuesday night, a bristling 70 from just 59 deliveries which kept the glamorous but under-achieving Franchise alive in the competition although they will have to win all three of their remaining games to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.

But Bravo has a special reason to thank the IPL, and it has nothing to do with the result of the match against the King’s XI Punjab which he helped win by eight wickets with 3.4 overs to spare.

Having dismantled the King’s XI batting line-up and restricted them to just 119-9, Bravo was promoted to open the batting in reply. The second over of the innings was undoubtedly a fine one from Irfan Pathan, so good infact, that it was a maiden. Bravo kept out a couple of deliveries, mistimed one, missed one and then, as recorded by the Cricinfo commentary, played the last ball defensively “with exaggerated caution.”

As most people would testify, there is very rarely a place for ‘exaggerated caution’ at any stage of T20 cricket but Bravo certainly made his caution pay handsome dividends with a brilliant innings.

If, however, the IPL had persisted with the promotion of their recent ‘innovation’ – the gambling game, ‘6-Up’, Bravo may have found himself the subject of some considerably raised eyebrows. Maiden overs, of course, are the rarest commodity in this form of the game.

For those who missed the brief experiment with what was marketed as “the ultimate game of cricket skill”, it required viewers to sms their ‘prediction’ for the next over to a number in India. If they predicted the first four deliveries correctly, they would, according to the commentators, “win some money.” If they predicted the score from the first five deliveries, or even all six, they could “win a lot of money.”

Tempting indeed, especially to a nation of cricket lovers in India who infamously love gambling despite it being (or perhaps because it is) illegal in that country.

Most ‘fixes’ in the murky underworld of match-fixing, as publicly revealed in the two Commisions of Inquiry which have been held into the subject, require a minimum of four ‘bought’ players. In the case of the ‘6-Up’ game, there might be the need for only one – the batsman.

A prediction of six dot balls would be one of the rarest. Maidens are rarer than overs of 20+. Yet a skilled batsman could not only ‘achieve’ a maiden over, but could even make it look authentic. Bravo’s was most certainly authentic. We know that because the ‘competition’ (it was really just straight gambling) had been suspended. But if the ‘competition’ had still been running, he may have become an inadvertent and innocent subject of considerable suspicion.

So congratulations are in order to the IPL administrators who recognised the potential for corruption in what was, surely, an innocent attempt to add some extra excitement to the viewing experience and, of course, a few extra rupees to the IPL pot.

But they were bold enough to recognise their misjudgement and do something about it. Well done gentlemen, we recognise and applaud your common sense.

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