After keeping mum for two weeks, Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has finally broken his silence on the spot-fixing scandal in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), describing it as "shocking and disappointing".
"It has always hurt me when the game of cricket is in the news for the wrong reasons. The developments in the last two weeks have been shocking and disappointing. As cricketers we are always taught to go out, fight hard, give our very best and play in the true spirit of the game," Press Trust of India quoted Tendulkar as saying.
"During this difficult phase, I join every cricketer, from the boys and girls in the maidans across the country to those who represent clubs, States and the country, who trust the authorities to take sincere steps to get to the root of the issue."
The 40-year-old cricketer, who retired from IPL after his team Mumbai Indians won the title last week, said the faith of the fans should not be compromised. "The faith reposed by the millions of fans should be justified and we owe it to them to ensure that Indian cricket is all about pride and joy," he said.
The statement came amid severe criticism on senior cricketers of the country for not speaking up on the spot-fixing scandal that has rattled the sports world.
Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is currently in England for ICC Champions Trophy, has not spoken even a word on the issue ever since the arrest of cricketers and bookies took place two weeks ago. He said that he would speak up at the right time, but experts are not happy with his indifferent attitude.
"I am terribly disappointed with Dhoni. Now if Dhoni had even moderately expressed his opinion on what happened, do you think they were going to sack him? Do you think the cricket loving public of India would have stood for it. I am very disappointed with the Indian captain as well as the others. The time has come to ask the BCCI President to resign. The time has come to break through the silence and the issue must be forced," N Ram, the former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, told a television channel.
"I think he could have just been diplomatically correct. I think he is going to regret this press conference when he leaves cricket because he could have really handled it in a better way," former cricketer Maninder Singh also said after MS Dhoni skipped questions related to the spot-fixing at a press conference.
The Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players - S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, in Mumbai on 16 May in connection with the spot-fixing. They were produced before the Saket Court and charged under section 240 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The police have also detained more than 10 bookies.
The Rajasthan Royals and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended the arrested players for their alleged involvement in betting scandal.
The Mumbai Police Crime Branch (CB) also arrested Gurunath Meiyappan, CSK Team Principal and son-in-law of BCCI chief N Srinivasan, in connection with his role in the betting scandal.