Spot-Fixing and Cricket

The title of my last blog now looks very outdated and stupid (to say the least) after the latest revelations of Spot-Fixing or at the least, players being in the pockets of middle men working for bookmakers.

Although they are unproven allegations at the moment, it has to be said that it dosen’t look good for certain members of the Pakistani team. Hearing Nasser Hussain say on Sky at the start of todays coverage that it it no surprise to him, that the stories have been in the background for some time now, is a damnation of sorts.

The commentators on Sky and TMS are around the players enough to hear all these rumours, I’m sure that the England players would also be aware, although none would probably openly admit it.

If these allegations are true, then it is remarkable how quickly new captain Salman Butt has been recruited into the system. This would appear to show that these shady characters have been around the team for some time now, a theory which can only be backed up by the news that the Pakistan team were warned by the management not to associate with Mazhar and Azhar Majeed in their hotel, although that would appear to be a rule applied to all agents, not just these two.

At the moment it looks like Mazhar Majeed has proved he has the players in his pocket, there is no evidence to suggest that any match has been thrown or result influenced. Nevertheless, it is still a very serious incident and I hope that ICC don’t use this as a reason to let people off with a slap on the rist. As who knows what the next stage was to be?

It dosen’t take an idiot to work out that the big money gambled on cricket isn’t gambled on a no-ball in the 3rd over of a test match. The fact that Majeed can get the players to do this shows that he could in all probability get them to do other things.

For example, go for a lot of runs in an ODI, while there might not be enough of a market to gamble on a no-ball in a test match, there would be a market for whether or not a bowler went for over or under 60 runs (for example) in his 10 overs in the upcoming 50 over series. This could also be enough runs to influence the overall result of a match.

The problem that could arise for ICC is that there might not be a massive amount of evidence to back these allegations up. It might look dodgy, but in the cold light of day they could be genuine no-balls. Could a conviction in a court of law be obtained on this evidence? Without being a lawyer, I don’t know, but I doubt it.

This is were it becomes a potentially massive problem for ICC. If the evidence isn’t good enough they could be reluctant to hand out appropiate punishments for fear of being sued. And therein comes the next problem. ICC could end up relying on the Pakistani authorities to hand out the punishments, and we all know their track record.

At the very least, the News Of The World have brought this problem back out into the public domain. I would imagine that stories within the cricket industry are rife, but without any hard evidence there is probably a reluctance to look too hard into them and make them public knowledge.

As has been the case in previous match fixing allegations, and bungs in football, it appears to be very hard to prove. It looks like it is never going to be eliminated, as cricketers can’t be watched 24 hours a day.

There is a responsibility on ICC and the individual cricket boards to keep on educating players on the dangers of this, but there is only so much they can do. Are they doing enough, is now the question? These latest stories show that the they all would appear to still have plenty of work to do, it will be interesting to see how they handle it this time.