London, Sep 4 :
Former England captain Ian Botham has branded the Indian Premier League (IPL) as “too powerful” for the good of cricket and believes that it should not exist.
Delivering the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s Wednesday night, Botham said the IPL provided the “perfect opportunity for betting and, therefore, fixing” and asked the International cricket Council (ICC) to do more to expose the “big names” involved.
“I’m worried about the IPL – in fact, I feel it shouldn’t be there at all as it is changing the priorities of world cricket. Players are slaves to it. Administrators bow to it. How on earth did the IPL own the best players in the world for two months a year and not pay a penny to the boards who brought these players into the game,” said Botham.
The legendary all-rounder feels IPL is too powerful for the long-term good of the game.
“I know this has been modified to a degree, but it is still an imbalance. The IPL is too powerful for the long-term good of the game. Corruption is enough of a problem in itself, but the IPL compounds that problem given it provides the perfect opportunity for betting and, therefore, fixing,” he said.
The 58-year-old said the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit must expose the big names, who were involved in corruption in the IPL.
“We have seen a few players exposed, but does throwing the odd second XI player into jail solve it? To kill the serpent, you must cut off its head. The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit must pursue the root of the problem and, if necessary, expose the big names,” he said.
Botham feels that central contracts have made some England players too “cosy” and also called on the government to promote the game more in schools.
“Central contracts are brilliant, but it has now become so essential to the England player that the sharpness goes,” he said. “A long contract is a cosy contract. To play international sport, above all else – above even freshness and rest – you must have desire. Hunger is still the most important attribute for any sportsman.”
Botham was upset to see how little the government is doing for the sport and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to make a change.
“Why aren’t the Government focusing on sport as a necessity in the school curriculum,” he said. “This subject drives me insane. I feel it is my duty to point out the problems that face sport in schools, and specifically cricket.
“The problem is now that schools are too big and there is no personal touch with the teachers. And as schools get bigger, one of the things you lose are your playing fields,” he added. “Come on David Cameron – when I came to Downing Street to meet you, you made all the right noises and promised to come back to me with your ideas. I’m still waiting.”