Match and spot fixing in Cricket – Loophole and grey areas

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India

Can betting, spot fixing and match fixing ever vanish from cricket? The answer is no as there are so many loopholes and grey areas.

Here are a few which come to my mind:

If a single ball can fetch 10 lakhs to a bowler in the IPL then the bowler who plays all 16 matches to bowl all 384 balls can be lured to a market worth 38.4 crores. Any player, who is made to feel that his bookie worth is Rs. 38.4 crores, invariably may start looking for avenues where he can earn money and yet not get caught. Even if he accepts one ball per match the additional income will be 1.6 crores.
The present players were caught because they were talking on mobile phones, which a professional and seasoned corrupt cricket player would never do. There are better ways of communicating than a mobile phone including personal meetings. A seasoned corrupt cricket player would not fix a ball or an over by showing signals like wearing towels, moving wrist etc. He would do that in a pre-agreed way without making it necessary to show on the field. Showing of a signal means that multiple parties are involved in the booking at multiple levels and the deal has been fixed at a very lower level of the nexus.
If a player wants to bet one ball per match, which is pre-defined ball, it will be difficult for anyone to catch him. For example, a pace bowler is allowed to bowl a bouncer in an over and if he can communicate to the bookie that the fourth of the over will be a bouncer, it will be difficult for anyone to catch.

How can one catch a corrupt player who is betting on a no ball without a usual bookie? Nobody stops the relative, friends or an acquaintance of a player to bet money on a pre-decided ball without involvement of any bookie. For example, a player himself can bet money on his ball through an acquaintance non bookie. For example, if the 6th ball is going to be a no ball, you don’t need a bookie for the same. You can bet on your own.

Today, people are talking about betting by a bowler, batsman or other players but nobody talks about betting by an umpire. They are the least paid, lead a non-celebrity lifestyle and are most vulnerable. Giving an ‘out’ as ‘not out’ and a ‘not out’ as ‘out’ can change the perception of the game. Their mistakes are never discussed as being fixed. In my feeling, they are the more vulnerable victims than bowlers and/or the batsmen.

It is scientifically possible to bowl in such a way that the bowler decides that how many runs can go on that ball because bowler is the one who is placing fielding. If his field setting is on the off-side and he bowls on the leg-side, there is every chance that the ball will go for a boundary because of lack of fielders on the leg-side.

If a bowler has betted for a minimum number of runs in an over, one may find a typical pattern of runs being scored in his bowling. He may try to give as many runs in the first three balls so that control lies with him for the subsequent three balls. For example, if he has to give 15 runs in an over, he will try to give 12-14 runs in the first three balls.
More the strategic time out intervals (4 intervals of 180 minutes each) more will be the betting options. In fixed matches each cricketing session between the intervals is vulnerable for betting and fixing. Each session is opened for a number of runs by the bookie. Again in the fixed session one will see many typical patterns
For example, if less than 72 runs are to be given in the first six overs, then the bowler may try to give 60 runs in the first three overs and then restrict next three overs to 10 runs. This is done to lure the customers. In a session of 75 runs if in the first three overs, 60 runs are made, all investors will feel of joining thinking 75 runs session will cross not being aware that the session is fixed and the bowlers will not allow more than 75 runs in the session. The bowlers will make sure that in the subsequent session, they don’t give runs.
The reverse is equally true. The bowlers may give only 10 runs in the first three overs making people believe that the batsman would not be able to make runs in the subsequent three overs also and suddenly you find in the next three overs, batsmen make 65 runs. So it is possible to analyze run patterns in each session to suspect betting or fixing.

In the current IPL, we have seen many tight matches which were won in the last over or the last bowl. If this happens too frequently, there are chances of betting or fixing. Already one IPL match is under scrutiny where one team failed to make 14 runs in 12 balls in the last over which is unusual for any IPL match.

You are caught only if you are intercepted while talking over phone or you talk loose under sting operation or you give anything in writing weather print or electronic mail or you are caught receiving money or are in possession of money. A good seasoned corrupt cricketer will never indulge into it.
Alcoholism and womanizing are both a part of corrupt practices and responsible for leak of information. Under the influence of alcohol one tends to talk loose and leak out the secrets. During loose sex with a casual partner also one tends to open out and speak the secrets. Chanakya Neeti, has been advocating about beware of implanted girls by the interested parties.
As per Chanakya Neeti corrupt people are not supposed to indulge sex with strangers especially under the influence of alcohol. The neeti also teaches not to get intimate with a woman. Most movies show this where chief dacoit does not allow women members I the gang.
Womanizing, alcoholism and corruption go hand in hand. People, for whom corruption is profession, always keep woman and alcohol out of their business and if they womanize, it is not under the influence of alcohol.
For B & C grade heroines, cricket stars are a way of getting easy money. Many bookies will hire them to lure cricketers and try to extract secret information.
Remember Charles Shobraj was a genius; if he had used his intellect as a scientist for the welfare of the society, he would have received Noble Prize by now. Ravana and Kansa were both geniuses. 
Chanakaya Neeti also says that corrupt practices never last for more than 8 years. Our mythology also shows that you have to pay in this birth or next birth for the results of the corrupt actions. The idea, therefore, should be to use your intellect in such a way that it ends up in the welfare of the society and not earning easy money which may put you behind the bars after some time.

Loopholes are and will be there in the society but one should not get lured by the above loopholes but live an honest life.

Of course there will be circumstances where the bookies will make you commit mistakes by blackmailing or threatening you but these are not common instances. They may plant a call girl in your hotel in the disguise of a room service and later blackmail you. They may even make a MMS or film a short movie.
It is also possible that the IO’s are corrupt. Even if the police intercept that a ball is going to be fixed, who can stop the same policeman from earning money by betting on the same ball. Who stops all the investigating officers instead of arresting the bookie earn money by betting?

Who stops two captains to ask their family members to bet heavy amount of money as to which player is going to bat first. Both of them can fix each other and make money by betting without involving a bookie. The same understanding can be between two managers, coaches, or two owners of the teams.
Who stops any renowned cricketer to bet on his own performance through a non-bookie partner? It is easy for them to multiply money of investors through a non-bookie.

Even the commentators influence the match betting. We can some of the past eminent cricketers giving their opinions as to who will win before and during time outs and that puts innocent people to bet their opinion.