WHAT'S special about Nayan Mongia? Why has he alone escaped punishment from the Board of Control for Cricket in India after it conducted its own inquiry and meted out life bans to Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma? Even Ajay Jadeja, who is known to be close to many politicians, has got a five-year ban. The same goes for Manoj Prabhakar.
Of course, there is a loophole; the Board has said these sentences are open to appeal. The four people affected all have plenty of money to hire the best legal brains and take the Board to court. Remember that many years ago, in Australia, Kim Hughes filed a case and won when he was banned from the game.
Back to my original question: why has Mongia been exonerated? Has he got better political contacts? Or is it that he has cut a deal with some administrator or the other? Or could it be that he is the only person with any chance of playing for India again?
The sentences imposed on the others really have little meaning. Azharuddin is nearing 40 and has no realistic chance of coming back into the Indian team. He may be able to play first class cricket but I doubt that he would want to do so. There isn't any money in playing for the state. Jadeja is 30 and it is only a very optimistic person who would hope that he would be selected at this age. In any case, he has only been a fixture in the one-day side; he has played just 15 Tests and is yet to get a hundred at Test level. Both Prabhakar and Sharma are no longer active cricketers. Only Mongia has a good chance of getting back into the team and that is because India is yet to find a decent keeper to replace him.
The Board has thus been rather clever. Or so it thinks. It can now tell the rest of the world that it has taken a tough stance with the players who have been found guilty. It can say that the evidence has been thoroughly sifted and one man exonerated. On both counts, it can stand and shout to the rest of the world that it has done its job properly. And claim that it is really in control of cricket in India.
Make no mistake about it, the Indian board is made up of seasoned practitioners. They know how to bowl a googly, they know how to bowl a chinaman. They can produce a flipper much better than that which Shane Warne produces. These men get term after term in office because they know how to play on any kind of pitch. They will sacrifice only those whom they know they can sacrifice without getting mud on their faces.
At worst, the four will go through the courts and get permission to practise their trade. They will never be picked for India again; hell, the most talented cricketers never get picked for India unless they have somebody to push their case, so it is easy to keep a couple of people out of the team. And the luminaries of the Board will have their defence all ready - we took action, the courts let them play. We did our job. So, what else is new?