Cheating is nothing new.
As long as there are games to be played and money to be made, there will always be greedy people who want to rig the system in their favor to make more.
This happens just as much in cricket as any other sport.
Do me a favor and Google cricket bans or cricket match fixing. What do you see?
Chances are you see a Wikipedia page with about 20 players who were given bans of various lengths for cheating, accepting bribes, and fixing matches.
And that’s just one search result. Go down the page and you’ll find more.
But the point of this page isn’t to convince you that cheater’s run rampant in cricket.
What I want to do is answer a few questions for people who know there are cheaters trying to fix cricket matches, but want to know the answers to questions like:
You ready to get started?
Let’s start with the basics. What does a scandal look like? Who’s usually involved? How do these things unfold?
Well, most plans will start with the bookmaker – OR – anyone who might have inside information.
These guys will approach teams, players, officials, or anyone else who can influence a match’s outcome.
Why? Money. It’s almost always about making more money.
You know the saying; everyone has a price. And that’s been proven time and time again to be true. All that matters to the bookie is that he can rig the game for cheaper than what he stands to win doing so.
But sometimes .. only sometimes .. cheating is about something other than money.
For example, there have been many cases outside of cricket where players played soft or lost on purpose so to avoid facing a certain opponent later in a tournament bracket or playoff game.
One example of this is the 1988 NFL season. The 49s already had a playoff spot. But if they won their last exhibition game against the Rams the NY Giants would also earn a playoff spot. Then the 49s and Giants would play against each other.
The problem? The Giants beat them the last couple of seasons.
So, what did the 49s do?
Apparently they lost to the Rams so the Giants didn’t make the playoffs. And, the 49s ended up going to – and winning – the Super Bowl.
The point is there are all kinds of incentives. Some arguably worse than others. But one thing’s the same – they’re all a form of match or spot fixing.
A common question is: What’s the difference between match and spot fixing?
Let’s answer that now with some examples.
Match fixing is when an entire game is rigged. A team can play soft, teams can conspire together, or officials can be bought and paid for to make calls in favor of a team.
One example of a (attempted) match fix involved South African captain Hansie Cronje.
Hansie took money from a bookmaker (on several occasions) to purposely lose matches. In one case he paid opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs and bowler Henry Williams to play bad so they’d lose to India.
As it so happens, Gibbs played well and Williams stopped playing due to being injured. And South Africa won the game anyway.
In 2000, Delhi policed said they had a recorded conversation between Cronje and a representative of an Indian betting syndicate about match fixing. Herschelle Gibbs was implicated, as well as Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom.
After an enquiry by the commission Cronje was banned for life from cricket. He challenged it once, but was dismissed. He died shortly later in 2002 from a plane crash.
The matches Hansie Cronje fixed was considered to be some of the biggest scandals to hit cricket (which wasn’t reported/filed until a decade later after his death). That is, until the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal.
Spot fixing is a bit different from match fixing in that you don’t have to win or lose a game. All cheaters are looking for here is to rig a specific outcome.
In other words, think of spot fixing like rigging a prop bet or outcome, like how many runs would be scored in an over or ball. It’s a smaller outcome which is easier for people to pull off without drawing as much, if any attention.
For most people anyway.
The biggest scam to hit cricket is the Pakistan cricket spot-fixing scandal of 2010.
The members of the Pakistan cricket team were charged with taking bribes from Mazhar Majeed, a bookmaker, to under-perform at certain times during a Test match at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, 2010.
Undercover reporters secretly videotaped and caught Mazhar Majeed accepting money and informing reporters that fast bowlers Asif and Amir would deliberately bowl no balls at specific points in an over.
As a result, the International Cricket Council banned 3 players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir for terms of between 5-10 years. Butt and Asif were also found guilty on criminal charges. All 4 involved were given prison sentences ranging from 6 to 32 months.
Sort of a bummer. For the sport, I mean. The cheaters got exactly what they deserved.
I suppose it depends on what side of the coin you’re on.
If you’re a scumbag, you can find yourself with information that can make you lots of monies. Insider information is the best kind of info there is.
But there are risks – just ask Mazhar Majeed.
Plus, there’s the issue of integrity. Morals and ethics. Your (good) name.
That much should be obvious to anyone with a conscience though. So, how does (others) match fixing affect legit, honest bettors? Well, for one thing you’re operating without information that a few people have access to. There are some things that everyone is privy too – the weather, where a game is to be played, who’s injured, who’s starting, and so on.
But you won’t know who’s going to throw no balls. Or when they’re going to throw them.
This creates a HUGE snowball effect – every market you bet on may/is dependent on situations like that which are fixed. This creates situations where your outcome is fixed – win or lose – you just don’t know it yet.
Bets can also be voided. Even if you won.
But those are minor in the grand scheme of things.
To me, the worst part of cheating is its ties to sports betting. It put betting in a bad light. This sucks because it impacts laws that are passed or not passed. It makes it harder for us to enjoy the hobby (or profession, for some).
Which is a total bummer in this day and age where sports betting couldn’t be any safer or easier to do with the technology we have at our disposal.