Rahul Dravid acknowledged that nothing short of getting to the root of the entire spot-fixing saga will return the faith of the Indian cricket fan, while making it clear that he will bid adieu to the game after the Champions League T20 later this year.
Dravid, who led Rajasthan Royals to the playoffs of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 for the first time since 2008 when Rajasthan won the title, was speaking to newsmen shortly after his side went down by four wickets to Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 at Eden Gardens on Friday (May 24) night. "I don't know, the truth always sets you free, that's what I believe," said Dravid when asked what he thought could be done to win back the faith and the confidence of the cricket fan. "I really hope that in anything, we just get to the truth and find out the truth and get to the bottom of it, whatever it is and however painful it may be."
"It was a difficult phase, it was something that I had never experienced before, so it was unique in that sense," Dravid said of the midnight arrests of S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan on spot-fixing charges nearly ten days back. "You plan for a lot of things - you plan for disappointments, you plan for failing, you know how to deal with that. But stuff like this comes up, you don't know ... it's quite challenging. I was lucky that we had good spirit in the team. The rest of the guys - there was great character in the team, good support staff. And while it was a challenge, I am happy to have got over it in some ways. I don't think things will ever be the same. I think it is going to take a bit of time to get over it for all of us. We had to get ready and play these games. But I think after this, when we go back and get back to our houses, the whole thing is going to take some time to get used to."
Dravid also emphatically stated that shutting down the IPL was not the solution to the current crisis. "The cricket's great, there's no doubt about it," he said. "I have always said the IPL in itself is a fantastic tournament, a great tournament. There are a lot of positives about it but there are challenges in the IPL as well, as we have seen in the last week, ten days. Not only this, there are other challenges that come up from time to time and have to be dealt with. There is no point - if you completely throw away the tournament, it is like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. It's just a question of correcting some of the challenges it continuously faces, like any tournament. An issue of betting is not only about the IPL. An issue of betting has been seen in the past also in international cricket. We don't stop international cricket because of that. If that yardstick was used, then we should stop all cricket. But I think we need to sort the issues out rather than make big statements like cancel the IPL and throw it away and all that because there is some really good positives that do come out of it."
On his own future plans, Dravid made it clear that he wasn't looking at IPL VII and that the CLT20, for which Rajasthan have directly qualified as the third-placed team in this IPL, would be his swansong. "At 41, 12 months is a long way away," he laughed. "We have luckily qualified for the Champions League, I think that will be it."
As has been the norm all season long, Rajasthan scrapped hard to make things difficult for Mumbai. After posting a competitive 165 for 5, they fought back brilliantly to take the match down to the wire, sending scares through the Mumbai ranks as they reduced them from 125 for 1 to 141 for 5. "It's always disappointing when you lose a game but it was a close game. It was one of those that could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we ended up on the losing side," pointed out Dravid. "That's disappointing, but all the boys in the team can be proud of the way we fought today as well as the whole campaign."
Refusing to pick out a favourite ahead of Sunday's final between Mumbai and Chennai Super Kings, all he would say was, "Both are very good sides, they are evenly balanced sides. Mumbai has got a couple of good spinners in the middle there, so has Chennai. On this wicket, as we saw today, having spinners through that middle period does make a big difference. Unfortunately, we didn't have that wicket-taking spinner today. But it's a hard one to pick. Obviously, CSK has done really well over the years, they have reached the finals five times. They know how to play in finals; they play really well. But MI have some match-winners as well.
"It's a really tough one for me to call. I hope the team that plays the better cricket wins and we have a great game. I think this tournament deserves a great final. We had a great game today; it went down to the wire. And after all that has happened, as long as we get a great game of cricket, irrespective of whoever wins, hopefully cricket will come out winning."