Reactions to Vinod Kambli’s match-fixing allegations keep pouring in from all quarters.
Vaibhav Purandare, in a hard-hitting article for the Hindustan Times, points out that Mohammad Azharuddin’s comments deriding Kambli “are in poor taste.”
Though I am not in agreement with Purandare’s professed opinion on other topics (more about that later), I am in agreement on this.
Kambli comes from a backward caste; he was unconventional, even Calypsonian, in his approach to the game.
He was once termed the only West Indian in the Indian side.
“To point to his ‘lack of background' is to ridicule his poverty and his struggle against the odds.”
ICC President Sharad Pawar and BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla heaped scorn on the southpaw.
Former Pakistan skipper, Rashid Latif and former BCCI vice president Sunil Dev support Kambli’s views that the 1996 semifinal could have been fixed.
“I don’t see what’s wrong in holding a probe even if Kambli has come out with claims after 15 years. If there was no hanky panky, what has the BCCI or Pawar to fear?”
Kambli’s critics point to the time lag between the incident and his disclosure on national television.
Is that really the point? Is delayed discovery sufficient excuse to let an atrocity go unpunished?
Is omerta, or the code of silence purported to suppress injustices, for the greater good? Is the BCCI unaware that cricketers are impressionable young lads with characters not yet fully moulded?
Greg Chappell, in his autobiography Fierce Focus, revealed that the younger players were in awe of the seniors in the team. Are we to assume that it was less so in Azhar’s time?
Could Vinod Kambli, then a young man aged 24 or 25, have been aware of the greater ramifications of Azhar’s decision, presuming it was mala fide?
Can Kambli be crucified simply for presenting the possibility of a treacherous deed?
In June 1997, Manoj Prabhakar’s allegations of match fixing sparked off the Justice Chandrachud commission hearings. The enquiry was instituted by the BCCI.
Mazhar Majeed’s "links" to Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh were rubbished by both parties.
Can Kambli’s claims be as easily dismissed? He is no outsider.
What others think of us would be of little moment did it not, when known, so deeply tinge what we think of ourselves.
PS: Access Vaibhav Purandare's article in HT's e-paper dated Nov 20, 2011 here.