Former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi spoke to Outlook about IPL and the silence of the cricketers in its governing council.
Was only Lalit Modi the villain of the piece in the IPL drama?
There’s no doubt he’s the only one responsible, because it’s clear that he didn’t consult anyone and took decisions unilaterally.
But there were 14 people in the IPL governing council, including three former India captains.
Yes, that’s strange. I don’t know what the governing council has done over the last three years. They were getting paid very big salaries; you pay people to do a job, not just to sit there quietly. You can’t pretend that there was nothing suspicious you saw over the last three years. Why did they take up the job if they had no courage of conviction about it? And having taken it, why did they keep quiet?
Was it correct to suspend Modi?
He should have been thrown out, there’s no point listening to him! However, I know it’s fair to give him a chance. But had he been in their (Shashank Manohar or N. Srinivasan’s) position, he wouldn’t have allowed them a hearing.
Would you have joined the IPL council if Modi had offered you Rs 1 crore?
No. He represents everything that’s bad in an Indian. No one can put money on my head. I said no to World Series cricket in 1981 even though a few others were interested; I threw back the blank cheque Kerry Packer’s man had placed before me.
“The quality of cricket in IPL is average, but commentators are paid to praise it to great heights.”
Why are you against the IPL?
I’m not against the IPL as such, I’m against the excess of it. Change has to be accepted. But (in IPL) we’re overdoing it, playing too much of worthless cricket. The T20 World Cup gets over in 15 days; why must the IPL go on and on?
And Modi has crossed all boundaries of decency, and had the gall to quote the Gita in his speech after the IPL final! Think about this: the players who were going to play in the final came to the ground in buses; this man came in a helicopter. His wife and son too!
What do you think of the corporate world getting control of cricket and BCCI?
Well, from being sponsors, they’ve become team-owners. They’re behaving as if they’re bigger than the teams. If you own something you become the master. But in this game, Donald Bradman is the real master. In sport, the masters should be the players. The IPL will prevent youngsters from realising their potential; because there’s not enough money in first-class cricket, everyone wants to play in the IPL.
And the quality of cricket?
It’s mostly average, but commentators are paid to praise it to great heights. It’s compared to the English Premier League football, but EPL is the real thing.