PAGE OF SHAME series: Match-fixing and Spot-fixing taints cricket

PAGE OF SHAME series: Match-fixing and Spot-fixing taints cricket

London | 27 October 2012 | Clip-Dex Match Fixing Videos


Match-fixing to manipulate the goings-on in cricket is eating away at the entire fabric of the game. The fundamental attraction for millions of fans who follow World Cups and Test matches is the sheer unpredictability of the outcome. These fans are increasingly being taken for mugs when yet another sting operation reveals more cheats are involved, making a mockery of the results – whilst the ICC stands by haplessly doing too little, too late.

Illegal fixing in cricket does not necessarily focus solely on manipulating winning or losing games – the so called “Match” fix. The new menace that is rampant in cricket is its cousin, the “Spot” fix. This newer form takes the illegal practice way beyond teams losing matches deliberately.

The more classical form of Match fixing does still happen; the final outcome of a few matches are still fixed from time to time for massive sums of money.

But it not as easy to fix matches since that will need several key players to be involved. Also, for this fix to succeed it will almost certainly have to enlist the captain as a central figure orchestrating the desired outcome.

And there is a good probability that the contrived outcome – against the odds – will come under intense scrutiny.

However, Match fixing does still happen as was starkly apparent in the 2nd Test in Sydney in January 2010 when Pakistan threw away a winning position.


What is Spot Fixing?

Spot-fixing refers to illegal activity where a specific event within a game is fixed. The simplicity of Spot-fixing is that a single player alone can reap the same monetary return as match fixing. This can then be multiplied many times over by manipulating several events in each game.

Examples of Spot-fixing include:

1. something as minor as timing a no ball or wide delivery

2. the decision of a captain to either bat or bowl on winning the toss

3. deciding who would bowl first with the new ball

4. who takes first strike between the opening pair

5. how many players walk out onto the playing field wearing the team cap, or wearing no caps

6. less than an agreed upper limit of runs are scored between a specific bracket of overs

7. a specific over will go for more than 10 runs

8. a declaration will be made with a specific target set

9. a minimum number of wickets will be lost prior to a win or loss of a match

10. the final team will have a specific player(s) included, usually with a surprise or two after a regular player(s) cries off at the last moment with injury


Spot-fixing primarily attempts to defraud bookmakers illegally by means of a player agreeing to perform to order one or more of the above list of action, by pre-arrangement.

As such spot-fixing differs from match fixing, where the final outcome of a match is fixed, or a specific type of match fixing in which corrupt players and officials attempt to limit the margin of victory of the favoured team.

Spot-fixing is more difficult to detect than match fixing as the events that are fixed and then bet on is generally innocuous activities that are hard to prove as pre-meditated.

Spot-fixing is most associated with the underground betting markets of the Indian subcontinent where bets can be placed on individual deliveries in a cricket match. The advent of shorter format T20 cricket has made spot-fixing more difficult to detect as has the growth of on-line gambling and spread betting by legal gambling websites in regulated markets.


Why do players get tempted to fix?

Long suffering fans are constantly amazed that well paid players who are well aware of their responsibility towards himself, his team, his sport and his nation - would even think of indulging in any form of activity to deliberately under-perform to fix outcomes in competitive sport.

To understand complex motivations beyond the basic greed that drive players to accept money, we only have to look at the case of Hansie Cronje who as captain of South Africa was convicted of match fixing. "It is very hard to explain," he said. “sometimes you have to pinch yourself to realise what the position is at the moment. I don't know why I did it. I've asked myself the question so many times over and over again. And it's obviously a mistake that I've made. I cannot find one answer that will give me an answer to that one question."


Dangers of the criminal elements

The manipulation of cricket matches is directly related to organised crime and economic crimes, through which tens of millions of dollars end up in the wrong hands. Cricket match fixing also provides an easy avenue for criminal organisations to launder black money; illegal gains are paid out to corrupt players and returned back many times over (in the form of winnings) from payouts from legal betting websites.

The criminal gangs do not just offer bribes; they also blackmail players. In the worst case scenario, the target of the bribery may wind up dead if he fails to deliver what has been agreed on as is suspected in the separate cases involving Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer.


More reading on Match and Spot Fixing

This CricketCrowd Page of Shame series also examines the following related items over the next few weeks.

The list of Shamed Players and Suspects – coming soon

A timeline of Match Fixing

How does match-fixing and spot fixing make money – coming soon

Past match fixing investigations - coming soon

The impact of IPL in the growth in Spot-Fixing – coming soon


Want more analysis? Checkout the Clip-Dex Page of Match Fixing Videos

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