Posted at 08:53 AM ET, 05/18/2012

Indian Premier League cricket stung by scandals

NEW DELHI — For cricket-crazy Indians, the Indian Premier League (IPL) transformed the old, colonial-era gentleman’s game into 21st-century, swashbuckling entertainment — replete with bling, Bollywood, billionaires, pom-pom waving cheerleaders and scandalous after-parties.


Shah Rukh Khan, a Bollywood actor and co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders team, gestures toward a security guard at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Khan is to be banned for life from entering the Wankhede Stadium following an altercation he had with security gurads and officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association. (Indranil Mukherjee - AFP/Getty Images)

The league squeezed the long, slow game to a relatively scant three hours, packed it with American-style energy and thumping music, and even brought in the Washington Redskins cheerleaders for a cameo appearance in 2008.

Nine Indian cities got teams owned by Bollywood superstars and billionaire businessmen and sporting American-style names: Delhi Daredevils, Pune Warriors, Kolkata Knight Riders. Analysts dubbed it “cricket on crack.” Fans loved it.

Now, this heady, cash-rich caldron of entertainment seems to be crumbling under its own weight.

In the past week, three scandals have rocked the Indian Premier League. A television sting operation showed cricketers agreeing to play sloppily for money; Bollywood superstar-cum-team-owner Shah Rukh Khan, got into a brawl with security guards at a stadium while allegedly drunk; and Australian player Luke Pomersbach was arrested Friday on charges of molesting an American woman at an after party in a five-star New Delhi hotel.

What was meant to be a grand makeover for cricket is now suffering an image crisis of its own. Kirti Azad, a former cricketer from the 1980s and now a lawmaker, says he will fast on Sunday to protest the harm IPL has done to the game.

“It is not IPL, it is a rave party. It is against Indian culture,” said Yashwant Sinha, another lawmaker. “If semi-naked girls will continue to dance after every four is scored, then this is what will happen.”

There is an English proverb to describe things not being right — “It’s not cricket.” The colonial correctness of the game seems to have come back to haunt India’s instant version.

More world news coverage:

- Egyptian presidential hopefuls on campaign trail

- Iran sanctions bill blocked in U.S. Senate

- European markets respond to crisis

- Read more headlines from around the world

By  |  08:53 AM ET, 05/18/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company