The science of spot fixing

Published: October 3, 2010
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To resolve this issue of match-mixing, we need to eliminate the cause from the "Cause, Effect & Catalyst" theory.

Pakistani cricketers, Indian bookies and British media have all played their role to make sure spot/match-fixing continues smoothly. All three have certain things in common. They are all unpredictable, influential and very professional.

The issue of spot/match-fixing has been key in the downfall of numerous cricketers from all over the world. Hansie Cronje, Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Salim Malik, Maurice Odumbe, Mark Waugh, Shane Warne, and many others have suffered due to this evil.

So why does match-fixing happen? It is based on the basic ‘cause and effect’ theory. But I like introduce the ‘catalyst’ to this theory in order to better explain the process. Now, let’s take a look at this ‘cause, effect and catalyst’ theory in light of desi cricket.

The effect: unprepared cricketers

From its modest beginnings, Pakistan has been blessed with the most talented players who gave new meanings to the game of cricket.

Pakistan is well-known for its unplayable fast bowlers, creative spinners and resistant batsmen. Pakistan changed the face of the game.

Phenomena like the collapse of a strong batting line-up after the tea break were only possible through the Pakistani bowling attack. A nail-biting, last ball victory is also the invention of Pakistani batsmen. Introducing spin bowlers in one-day and T20 cricket and having the last overs bowled by spinners is also a Pakistani idea. Pakistan’s contribution to the game of cricket is what made cricket attractive for the fans. However, the same cannot be said about the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Most Pakistani cricketers hail from poor or lower-middle families, who do not have exposure of the international world. They are not educated or trained about international laws. Unfortunately, in the National Cricket Academy (NCA), there is no guidance given on how to handle media or how to respond to crisis situations while staying abroad. They are not told how to live in different cultures.  Even the visiting managers do not create any such awareness.

This attitude of the PCB creates problems for the cricketers and the cricket board. And then, PCB does not even take responsibility for such cases. That does not essentially mean that the players are innocent, but it shows that the talented  ambassadors of Pakistan are not equipped to handle people and there is no indication they are moving towards the right direction.

The cause: Indian bookies

Talent without awareness is easy prey for negative forces. This is the case with Pakistani cricketers. They start flying high in a sky where experienced bookies, who are already waiting for them, approach them and get desired results by any means.

With regards to the bookies, I’d like to mention that ODI test cricket is played in 10 countries and T20 in around 16, while this ‘off the field’ cricket (betting) is mostly played in one country: India.

In the recent past, players from many countries claimed that they were approached by Indian bookies. More on that can be found on cricinfo.com, while I would share a few prominent examples that received much publicity.

Before I list the players let me introduce you to Mukesh Kumar Gupta (aka MK), a bookie from India who is known to have played a vital role in abruptly ending of careers of cricketing legends. Here are some of his victims:

1. Mohammad Azharuddin (India)
He admitted to accepting money to fix two matches. He received £150,000 and aided the expansion of the betting operation.

2. Manoj Prabhakar (India)
Admitted to introducing a number of players, including Alec Stewart, Brian Lara, Mark Waugh and Salim Malik to MK.

3. Hansie Cronje (South Africa)
MK states he paid $40,000 to lose a test in 1996. He also paid around $50,000 to fix matches when India toured in 1996-97.

4. Salim Malik (Pakistan)
MK stated he paid Salim Malik PKR 800,000 [£12,000] to fix a match between Indian and Pakistani Wills Cup winners in 1991.

5. Mark Waugh (Australia)
MK stated that he paid a sum of $20,000 [£12,900] to Waugh to provide “information” about pitches, weather, strategy, etc.

6. Brian Lara (West Indies)
According to MK was paid $40,000 (£26,000) to under-perform in two one-day matches in India during 1994.

7. Alec Stewart (England)
MK discloses he paid £5,000 in exchange for information about pitches, weather, team composition, etc.

8. Martin Crowe (New Zealand)
MK went to Crowe’s residence in presence of his wife and paid him $20,000 [£12,900] for information on pitches, etc.

9. Aravinda De Silva (Sri Lanka)
MK states he paid $15,000 for fixing a 1994 Test. De Silva introduced him to Martin Crowe in 1991 via telephone.

10. Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka)
Paid for fixing Lucknow Test in 1994 against India and introduced bookmaker MK to New Zealand captain Martin Crowe.

Source: independent.co.uk

Several cricketers have been approached by Indian bookmakers. Three Sri Lankan players claimed to have been approached on their tour of Australia in 1992, while Australians Shane Warne and Mark Waugh admitted being in touch with an Indian bookmaker in 1994.

Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming said in 2004 he had been approached by an Indian to fix matches during the 1999 World Cup, while West Indian Marlon Samuels was banned for two years in 2008 for being in touch with a bookie while touring India.

And in the most high-profile corruption case of all, Delhi Police recorded South African captain Hansie Cronje in conversation with an Indian bookie in 2000.

Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma received life bans, fellow Indian Ajay Jadeja returned to domestic cricket only after winning a court case, while Manoj Prabhakar, another Indian, served out a five-year ban.

It is evident from media reports that most bookies belong to India. Even the IPL is victim to this issue but the BCCI has a very different view of the situation. TOI reports:

ICC has earlier raised fears that matches in the IPL could be fixed. The BCCI had initially turned down ICC anti-corruption unit’s service saying that the fee was ‘too high’.

“With so much money belonging to Indians riding on matches, bookies from the country are an unfortunate reality,” says acclaimed sports writer Pradeep Magazine, who acted as a whistleblower in the mid-1990s after he was approached by an Indian bookmaker.

It is estimated that up to $1 billion is bet on big matches, such as those at the World Cup, and some feel that betting should be legalised in the country.

Former Indian cricket board president IS Bindra was in favor of legalising betting around the time the Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched two years ago amid fears of Twenty20 cricket providing more opportunities for fixing matches.

“This (legalising betting) will not only eliminate things like match-fixing but also generate revenue in millions,” Bindra said. “It is in the interest of the government.” (thetimesofIndia.com)

That is how Indian Bookies (the cause) and the talented players (effect) play their in match-fixing.

The catalyst: British media

Now, in the role of the ‘catalyst’ – the British media is undoubtedly matchless for its performance and repute. They have a history of unfolding mysteries. However, there have been a few cases of misreporting issues by different newspapers and journals and I am afraid, the recent case seems to be one of them. Either that, or it is half baked, but the details can only be discussed once it fully unfolds.

One thing is for sure – whatever happens, it is multiplied by ten-folds by journalists and paparazzi. The media keeps issues interesting and readable for everyone and people talk about them for years.That is what a catalyst does. Nothing is as spicy as the British media’s stories.

So there you go. That is how the triangle of ‘cause, effect and catalyst’ works.

How can this issue be eliminated? Simple. Eliminate the cause. The rest fixes itself.

ahmad.fuad

Ahmad Fuad

A corporate training specialist and motivational speaker. Fuad has also worked as a professional sports journalist for Daily Khabrain and has been writing bi-lingual articles for national and international journals. He played professional cricket at the Under 16 and Under 19 level.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.