Ian Baker - Spot fixing is almost impossible to prove
14 Apr 2010 - 07:40:32
The cricket world has been wary of betting scandals ever since the dark days of the 'fixed' 2000 Centurion Test and the Hansie Cronje affair.
But is anyone really surprised that in 2010 the sport is involved in another betting irregularities investigation?
We've had recent similar cases in snooker and tennis along with football. Southampton footballer Matt Le Tissier even admitted taking part in a dodgy spread bet over the time of a first throw-in.
Last week two Essex players were said to be helping police with their inquiries. Proving anything is difficult, nigh on impossible, but just brings to light how easy it is to 'spot-fix', a term that seems to have been coined of late.
Spot fixing does not mean totally throwing a game. It means affecting one of the hundreds of other bets that bookmakers offer. i.e. the number of wides in an over, the number of runs a batsman scores, runs per session, etc.
And with exciting gambling in the form of spread betting rife - both legal, regulated and unregulated - people can win literally millions on any eventuality in cricket.
The spread could say Team B will score between 90 and 95 runs in a session. I could decide to sell that (which means I will win my stake times number of runs lower than 90) for £1,000 a run.
I could say to a Team A player you can earn half my winnings as long as you do anything to ensure they do not get runs.
That means Team B could be on 75-1, 10 minutes before lunch on the opening day of a match, when my man decides to feign a serious Achilles tendon injury, thereby wasting away most of the remaining time.
Just one more over is possible. Team B add three more runs and go to lunch 78-1. I split my £12,000 winning with my man and we are both laughing.
That is how easy it is in cricket to cheat, even in a regulated industry. Now just consider all the unregulated bookies in Asia and you get the idea.
In terms of match outcome, no-one has lost in this scenario, but the game of cricket loses its credibility.
Given how tempting it is for players to cheat the betting system, the cricketing authorities have to throw the book at anyone found guilty of any kind of betting on the match they are involved in.
The problem is proof. Practically impossible.
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