You are either in love with the sport or not. You could be a cricket chief, a cricketer or a cricket writer, but that does not mean you are in love with the sport. Sometimes, you fall out of love. Or the lines between the sport and power and money and influence blur.

The lines blurred with betting in the Indian Premier League and the denial that followed. It appeared like one big cover-up, the media were fed Sreesanth and some other names that nobody remembers now. In hushed whispers, behind closed doors, bigger names were taken, names that were on “sealed envelopes”, names that were not to be spoken. Names that were never spoken of.

Denials and more denials

The then BCCI President’s son-in-law made the news, there was more denial. A great wrestler’s son made the news. More denial.

It dragged so much, nothing was expected. Then two IPL teams and their owners went down. The players though found new teams.

The timelines blur. A BCCI President goes, a BCCI President dies, a BCCI President becomes a chairman of the International Cricket Council, a young BCCI President arrives.

In addition to “conflict of interest”, Lodha Committee and Supreme Court become part of the Indian cricketing lexicon.

There is more denial. If you run the BCCI, that is what you do, you deny. You deny so much, that soon, the pest that is knocking will just go away.

That is how it has been. That is how they expected it would be.

Because no matter how much people love the game, it is not people’s love that runs the game. So they thought, so they were made to believe.

It was reality and politics and money and back-scratching that ran the game.

Here’s something for you, Mister – it might be the richest cricket board in the word but this one pest was quite unlike the others, he was from Bihar. He kept knocking.

Knock, knock, knocking on justice’s door.

But the whole thing dragged. And the games off the field can make you fall out of love with the games on the field. Even if you love the game for nothing, but what you see on television, at the grounds, on the scorecards on websites, in newspapers. And that is pretty much how it is with most cricket fans, they invest themselves, their love, their time, their beliefs, their loneliness, their all into the game. The game, in return, gives them joy, and because of that joy, it often fills them with despair.

For the love of the game

Perhaps if every cricket fan had a law degree, the board’s Machiavellian moves would be of greater interest to them. Here was yet another continuous act of deception playing along. Deceiving not just the courts but those that loved the sport, no questions asked. Just that, most of us couldn not tell or couldn’t care less.

Aditya Varma did care though. He was the knocker. His knocking took down Srinivasan first, and now the BCCI, as we know it. In July, 2016, soon after the Supreme Court’s order to implement the Lodha panel recommendations, here is what he said:

“Sree Krishna demanded five villages for the Pandavas but Duryodhana denied him that and the result was the destruction of the Kauravas. In this ‘Mahabharata’, I just demanded affiliation for my Cricket Association of Bihar. The BCCI turned a deaf ear and the result was the complete overhaul of the country’s cricketing structure”

Ironically, if there’s one phrase that everyone uses with little thought, it is, “Cricket is like a religion in India”. Here is Soumya Bhattacharya with a little more thought – “Religion has led to some of the deepest scars that India carries in its heart. Cricket is the balm that heals. Cricket is not like a religion in India. But if there is something – hypothetically – that makes the nation one, that thing ought to be likened to cricket.”

Reckon cricket is like cricket in India. And what was happening for quite a while with the BCCI, was not quite cricket. It was, like the last two sentences, a play of words. In the courtroom.