8 - 14, 2010

Cricket match fixing allegations have once again but unexpectedly reared its ugly head when the chairman of the PCB Ejaz Butt told the media that the ICC had informed about two Pakistanis involved in match fixing charges. By not naming the players the PCB chief unlashed the forces of speculation and rumor mongers.

Names were taken and old names were recalled how these former and current cricketers were involved in the practice and minting money.

The phenomena of match fixing did not emerge overnight it has taken about two decades or more to come to the surface. And it was detected when bookmakers started contacts with the players.

The essential ingredients in making or fixing a cricket match at any level including at world level are presence of bookmakers or betting persons or companies, greedy cricketer or cricketers interested to make million in just a snap with strong influence on his own team and on some important players in the opposing teams.

Most important amongst these essentials is the bookmakers supported by rich persons having links with the players.

Once all the necessary ingredients are at one place and act together, a match is fixed and all those connected with it make good money. But there is no known instance where a match has been lost or won through fixing. But there are instances when some international matches were lost from winning position giving rise to the speculation that the result was fixed.

Like every modern sport of the world that was born in England betting and bookmaking in sports also began in England. Betting and book makers in England have always been part of English football. But it was a clean business because there was no nexus between the bookmakers and the players of the club.

However fixing of a result was always convenient in horse racing because one had to control just one jockey who could make or break a race.

Match fixing is misnomer in cricket because of the unpredictability of the sport and also due to involvement of more than just one individual to create an expected or an unexpected result. However one or more than one cricketers individually or as a group could join hands and maneuver the outcome of contest. But in cricket it is easier to involve oneself is selling toss, dropping catches and running teammates. Through these acts players having nexus with bookies could make money.

Match fixing became almost an industry when one day cricket was taken to the desert dunes of Sharjah. Pakistan's constant good performance there over the years, prompted India to level the charges and later they refused to play there.

There are a number of incidents recorded in news papers overt the last thirty years in which hints were given how things were maneuvered to fix a result. Pakistan unfortunately is leading a number of countries who have been involved in illegal acts. Pakistan is allegedly involved in two most famous known cases of selling toss.

Pakistan skipper Intekhab Alam in 1975 was allegedly involved in selling the toss in home series against the touring West Indies in Lahore. Pakistan captain Intekhab Alam allegedly forfeited the toss in the First Test against the West Indies in their 1974-75 series. Star batsman Viv Richards alleged West Indian captain Clive Lloyd gave the staggering news after the toss that, despite having made the wrong call, he had been advised by Intekhab that he had in fact won the toss.

The second forfeiture of toss allegedly involved Pakistan skipper Asif Iqbal in Calcutta test in 1979-80 tour. Just before the test Indian bookies had fielded large bets on the home team winning the toss. According to claims later made by former Pakistan pace man Sarfraz Nawaz, then Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal picked up the coin at the toss before his opposite number, Gundappa Viswanath, even had a chance to verify the result and told the home skipper that he had won it.

Further allegations are also directed toward Iqbal's shock first innings declaration, which comes with his team a matter of 59 runs behind the Indian total and with six wickets still in tact. Pakistan was deeply involved when pacer Wasim Akram became a senior member of the team and particularly when he became the captain. In 1994 away series against New Zealand, Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram was allegedly to have offered Rs. 200,000 as bribe to young bowler Ata Ur Rehman to bowl poorly in an ODI which Pakistan lost despite dominating the series and the match. Ata Ur Rehman was later found guilty of taking bribe by an investigation commission set up in Pakistan and the player was banned for life.

Salim Malik twice as skipper of Pakistan team was allegedly involved in fixing a result. In 1994 at Colombo in Singer World ODI Cup, Saleem Pervez a Lahore bookmaker told former judge Malik Qayyum heading an investigation that he had paid USD 100,000 to Pakistan captain Saleem Malik and leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed to ensure that Australia won the match.

Saleem Malik was again allegedly involved in match fixing when Australian spinner Shane Warne and Tim May accused Malik offering them USD 200,000 on the night of the penultimate day of the test at Karachi to bowl badly.

Match throwing controversy came into open during Pakistan's South African and Zimbabwean tour. Pakistan wicket keeper Rashid Latif objected to Saleem Malik's decision to field after wining the toss twice. He smelt rat in the decision. In Harare test against Zimbabwe, Saleem Malik ensured that the toss was taken second time. Zimbabwe a massive underdog beat a strong Pakistan for its first test victory in his 11th appearance. This triggered the speculation that Saleem Malik had played foul.

Captained by Wasim Akram Pakistan's loss to Bangladesh in 1999 England World Cup was the biggest ever upset which provided proof that matches could be thrown for money. After enquiry Wasim Akram and Saleem Malik were banned from playing in 1999.

Not only Pakistanis but players of India, Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe were also found involved in match fixing. The South African captain Hansie Cronje was the first to admit that he had been involved in taking money for throwing matches.

In the 122 year history of Test cricket, the Fifth Test of the South Africa-England series 2000 ended in an astonishing two wicket triumph for the visitors. Prior to its sun-drenched final day, the match (in Centurion) had been badly affected by rain and it relied on the contrivance of two innings being forfeited for a result to be attained. Suggestions abound at the time that all was not entirely right about the manner in which the result was achieved. Same year Delhi Police laid charges against South African captain Cronje and teammates Herschelle Gibbs, Pieter Strydom and Nicky Boje relating to their alleged involvement in the practice of match fixing during their team's one-day series against India in March. In conjunction with the laying of the charges, purported transcripts of incriminating telephone conversations between Cronje and bookmaker, Sanjay Chawla, began appearing in media outlets across the cricketing world. Cronje was sacked as South African captain only days before a three match one-day series against Australia was due to begin after he admitted that he had not been "entirely honest" in his earlier denials of accepting money from bookmakers. He confessed that he had received between $US10,000 and $US15,000 to provide weather and pitch information to bookmakers during the home Standard Bank Triangular Tournament which had pitted his side against England and Zimbabwe.

Chief of United Cricket Board of South Africa Ali Bacher first time publicly spoke about match fixing in 1999. He talked candidly to several members of the Australian press about the growing menace of corruption in cricket. He revealed that he had been informed that two 1999 World Cup matches might have been fixed and, more generally, that match-fixing had been a common practice in world cricket.

His comments were then linked by the pressmen to speculation about the propriety of Bangladesh's World Cup victory over Pakistan; Akhtar's umpiring in the Fifth England-South Africa Test of 1998 and the 1999 England-India World Cup match; and to the potential involvement of various Pakistan teams in the throwing of matches. The ICC held an emergency two day meeting in London that year to plot a course to deal with the scourges of match-fixing and betting. The eighteen assembled delegates resolved to implement a number of measures (most notably the creation of a Corruption Investigation Authority.

There is no way to prove if the players individually or as group act in a manner to contrive a particular result. The only way to detect is to monitor the assets of the players and how fast they grow.