The story of Absalom from the Old Testament tells of forgiving the unforgivable. Absalom, the son of King David, waged war against his own father in a bid to take over the kingdom. In battle, Absalom is brutally killed by his father’s forces. On hearing of his treacherous son’s death, King David says in his anguish – ‘O Absalom, O Absalom, what have you done’? But in 2013, forgiveness and redemption are at odds with Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, who tragically find themselves in Absalom’s situation.
With a lifetime of inquiries shame, dishonor and oblivion ahead of them, the trio may run out of answers, reasons and logic, but not out of time. They have the rest of their lives to ruminate over their actions. That Sreesanth had the gumption to go on a twitter rant about the slapgate incident when he was making deals with the bookies on the side goes to show how divorced from common sense he is. While most cricketers would kill for the opportunities that were afforded to him, he seemed to be over eager to lay his talents to waste. At what juncture he chose to tread the path of no return is something we probably will never know.
In his Bradman oration, Rahul Dravid said “If we stand up for the game’s basic decencies, it will be far easier to tackle its bigger dangers – whether it is finding short cuts to easy money or being lured by the scourge of spot-fixing and contemplating any involvement with the betting industry.” The IPL seems to have downgraded itself from being a sports tournament to something that resembles a B grade movie. From the female anchors that are hired just to be good looking props to the over-the-top commentators, there is a crassness that has set into the filthy rich league. It’s like the Playboy Mansion, where everyone comes to have their fun and then goes back to the real world. Player conduct, on field altercations and drunken team owners creating a ruckus don’t make for good viewing and send out the wrong message to future cricketers – that it’s okay to throw tantrums and behave like a jackass.
The clout enjoyed by the BCCI isn’t accompanied by humility. Instead, it is used to defer the use of the umpire review system and refusing to sign the doping clause issued by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA), citing player privacy concerns. Unhealthy autocracy won’t help the game learn from its mistakes which is the need of the hour now.
There is so much to mourn now. Three young cricketers who sold not only their services, but also their hopes, dreams and futures for a few extra bucks. Who in a moment of madness turned endless possibilities into bleak futures. Life throws at us these moments of disbelief and the only thing left to do is pick ourselves up and rediscover faith in the game we love so much. With a new generation of cricketers that are bred on glamour and have millions in their cache before they have any significant accomplishment to speak of, the task is much harder. The very people who rescued Indian cricket from dark times in the early part of the decade can play an important role – Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly must step up to the task instead of basking under silence. Whether the players serve jail time or not, they have created prisons for themselves with no key to free them from the depths of hell they find they themselves in.
The nature of sport and sports persons is to endure and cricket will hopefully emerge stronger and wiser after this crisis.There is no force in the world can thwart human greed and lust. Fall from grace stories and tales of rags to riches are two sides of the same coin.To the disgraced trio, all we can do is echo what King David said in his anguish – ‘What have you done, what have you done’?