Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham has announced that the Indian Premier League (IPL) should no longer exist during his speech at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.
Botham stated that the IPL is a prime target for illegal bookies and also encourages players to abandon their national teams.
“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,” Botham said. “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?
“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.”
Botham also noted that the International Cricket Council (ICC) have to get to the “root of the problem” if they are ever going to clean up the sport.
“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.
The 58-year-old also questioned whether central contracts have started to cause England players to slack off.
“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 added that it “drives him insane” to see how little the government is focussing on making sports “a necessity in the school curriculum”.
“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.”