by Alan Flook
London | 9 April 2014 | Match Fixing Videos
The term ‘Match Fixing’ is used as a catch-all for a whole range of things and is usually an inaccurate term as the result of a match certainly isn’t always involved. It is likely to be a particular event, or series of events, within a match which are manipulated rather than an entire match.
A high profile case, a few years ago in England, was associated with the number of runs to be conceded by a bowler in a particular over – hardly a standard bet at the local betting shop. The PCA and ECB have certainly learnt from that embarrassment and it is used as an example of what can go wrong. The player himself is involved in getting the message across to other professionals.
This seems to be a growing crime mainly emanating from the Far East but there is certainly no reason to believe it is limited to any particular part of the globe.
Bookmakers need to be punished
The perpetrators need victims – those who get conned into gambling on things which are not as they seem and those who are conned into creating a situation which can be gambled on. I have absolutely no sympathy with the bookmakers involved and they deserve the severest punishment when caught. I also have little sympathy with the gamblers – it is very much their choice and some of the bets offered should be ringing alarm bells.
I have slightly more sympathy with the people conned into creating the situation. These people seem to range from the criminal to the naïve and the authorities need to be able to differentiate between these, dealing with them in the appropriate way.
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I understand that, in the U.K., the Professional Cricketers Association, in conjunction with the ECB, brief the players before the start of every season giving advice on the matter. The ECB have produced a massive tome on the subject – it is not bedtime reading but does cover all aspects.
Apart from the players, another huge potential target are the professional umpires who are particularly vulnerable as they are constantly in a position to influence events during a game. The ECB assure me that each one is spoken to during the year.
A key element of these briefings is to enable players and officials to actually recognise when they are being groomed. I have no doubt the people making such approaches are learning from the past and becoming more sophisticated – it will hardly be a matter of ‘would you like a wad for no-balling three times in your second over’ - rather more subtle I imagine.
How effective are these measures?
Only time will tell how effective the current measures will be but you can guarantee that the bad guys will have their occasional success. The hope is that they get caught and that punishments are meted out at a deterrent level.
Every such event needs analysing to see what lessons can be learnt for future prevention. This is an international crime and needs total co-operation between the cricketing authorities around the world. This looks as if it happening but any perceived weakness in any one country will soon be seized on by the bad guys.
More reading at PAGE OF SHAME series : A timeline of Match and Spot Fixing activities
About the Author:
Alan Flook retired from umpiring in 2012 after 23 years in the Middlesex County Cricket league and a few years on the County Second Eleven list. More recently he was an umpire tutor, preparing new umpires for their exams and is presently an assessor as part of the umpire grading process. He is the current Chairman of the Middlesex knockout cricket cup.
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