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Spot Fixing And Cricket
Yahoo News, India Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ashok Malik
Most of the match fixing scandals in the past had Indian's or Pakistanis involved in it. It has happened over a course of time. It is a myth that the problem will go away if sports betting is legalized. Match fixing is not as straight forwars at present. Episode fixing and online betting has emerged in the recent past.Spot fixing is most lucrative when the odds are volatile and when there are high chances of one bad or good over or one dismissal affecting the odds, writes Ashok Malik in Yahoo News.

Oriental cunning once gave cricket the leg glance. These days its most newsworthy contribution seems to be an unending chain of fixing syndicates. Every cricket-related betting or fixing scandal in the past decade or so has had an Indian or Pakistani fingerprint. Even so, it is important to note this is not the same story being repeated over and over again. It has evolved over the years.

If the April 2000 revelations about Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin constituted a tragedy, the recent 'no-ball swindle' is almost farcical. The Pakistani cricket establishment spent days in denial. The International Cricket Council had to be pushed and goaded into doing the right thing and suspending the three implicated cricketers.


There is also the abiding myth that if India legalises sports betting, then the problem will vanish and fixing and player bribery will be sorted out forever. Corporate bookmakers, it is argued, will have no incentive to rig matches and tempt players. Should they do so, they will lose customers and market credibility. This sounds right in theory but, again, ignores how contemporary fixing works. Essentially, the template has changed enormously since the Cronje-Azharuddin era.

In the 1990s, fixing was straightforward: you paid a cricket team to lose a match. The captain - maybe both captains - was essential to pre-deciding the result of a game. To ensure success, you had to coordinate buying off a number of influential cricketers playing a particular match. Sometimes a bribed cricketer may not have known that his team mate too had been paid money by the same syndicate.

If some honest and incorruptible cricketer decided to bowl a great spell or score a fabulous, game-changing hundred, the fixer's best laid plans would crash.


Resultantly, 'episode fixing' arose as a product that the market needed. This entailed pre-determining or rigging specific episodes related to specific bets. For instance, if a batsman was 99 not out at tea, you could bet on him not reaching a century and in fact getting out in the first over after the break. This would appear a legitimate bet. If you managed to make contact with the batsman while he was sipping tea and settled on the right price, you would be very rich within a few minutes. This was the genesis of spot fixing.


Between 2000 and now a new animal has taken over the betting business: online betting. Betting websites are fascinating in their operations and in many ways approximate trading in the stock market. The odds for a match are set not by an individual bookie or a consortium of wise men but by the market.

... ...

What if you disagreed with the odds the market has set for a match or a bet? Online betting companies allow you set your own odds, within certain limits. The weight of money you bring in and the odds you set also have an impact on the overall market-determined odds. Of course these odds could still be different from the odds you have chosen.

Odds keep changing as a match proceeds. You can bet at various stages of the match and fine-tune your bet given your understanding of the game's trajectory. If your understanding is determined by insider information - as opposed to merely a cricket fan's assessment - there's a fortune waiting.

... ... ... ...

Spot fixing is most lucrative when the odds are volatile and when there are high chances of one bad or good over or one dismissal affecting the odds. It stands to reason that the shorter the format of cricket, the more attractive it is for spot fixing cabals. T20 is better suited to this industry than a five-day test match.

Market statistics bear this out. Cricket - especially T20 cricket - is one of the most bet on sports on betting sites. Betfair ( is the world's leading sports betting company. It accepts bets online from registered punters who pay using a credit card. (Ordinary Indian credit cards don't work on such sites and you probably need to borrow one from your cousin in Singapore.) According to insiders, a top golf tournament, say the US Masters, would attract bets worth £2 to 3 million on Betfair.


This is betting, it could be contended, and betting on a legal site. How does it suggest fixing? To be fair it doesn't. It does indicate though that Indian and Pakistani and South Asian punters - who clearly bring the incremental bets to the Betfair site during marquee cricket tournaments - are investing a king's ransom on cricket gambling. The motivation for some such punters to rig events is strong.

Occasionally this leads to sting operations such as the one in the United Kingdom last month. More often it leads to whispers. Even the IPL is not immune. Senior IPL officials admit they have heard stories but have never been offered hard proof.


This article was published in the Yahoo News on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Ashok Malik is a political commentator.
Tags- Find more articles on - india | match fixing

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