Cricket, often known to be the ‘gentleman’s game’, is anything but that in the current world scenario. One might say it is too blunt a statement to make, but this is what spot-fixing and match-fixing has done to the sport, a sport that many in the country consider to be a sort of religion.
Al Jazeera, a renowned media network, recently conducted a sting operation regarding match-fixing and spot-fixing which has sent the entire cricketing world into frenzy. The operation has revealed that four international test matches had been fixed, involving a host of people– right from ex-cricketers, pitch curators, current international cricketers to people involved with D-Company. The media outlet has released a couple of videos which show, in detail, the kind of fixing carried out in various matches. Before we take you into the details, we must give due credit and appreciation to the Al Jazeera network for having brought this to light!
It all starts with David Harrison from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit posing as an international businessman interested in buying inside information to fix test matches, and through some underworld intermediary, getting in touch with a certain Aneel Munawar, who worked for D-Company. With an experience of 6-7 years in match-fixing, Munawar assures David that no problems occur in the entire process, and if they do, they get taken care of. He also confidently says that almost 60-70% matches can be fixed, whilst also having certain players in every national team ‘under control’. The ease and confidence with which Munawar assures David about the fix is shocking.
Image courtesy – Al Jazeera
The general trend now is more towards ’spot-fixing’ rather than ‘match-fixing’, the simple difference being that in match-fixing, the result of the match is rigged whereas in spot-fixing, only a small part of the match is under the control of the fixers, which helps them place large amounts of bet in the particular ‘session’ and earn bigger amounts. Players are paid to underperform in a session, which usually consists of 6-10 overs. A former international cricketer, accused of match fixing, confesses in the video that cricketers are given expensive watches, flats, cars and sometimes are even sent models in order to carry out a fix.Munawar admits to David that the India vs England game in Chennai, held between 16-20th of December in 2016, was under his control, with three unnamed English players agreeing to carry out the fix. Incidentally, India made a sensational 759 runs which saw Karun Nair score 303 not out and won the match by an innings! Upon investigation, it was confirmed that the session Munawar had suggested was fixed and the outcome he had predicted was true. However, owing to legal reasons, Al Jazeera has not revealed the names of the English players, and also the overs that were rigged.
India England Test match that was allegedly fixed.
David is then introduced to another fixer, going by the name of Robin Morris, a former Indian cricketer who played for Mumbai in first-class and List ‘A’ matches, and his friend Hasan Raza, the youngest ever cricketer to play for Pakistan at 14. Robin then explains the multiple signs that show a fix is going to take place– few of them being bowling with sunglasses, removing the helmet while batting, wearing a headband or a sweat band or even walking off when the bowler reaches the crease to deliver. To any fan watching in the stadium or on television, it may all seem normal. But this revelation by Robin will definitely make fans sense some foul play every time something similar happens. David is then introduced by Robin to his businessman friend, Gaurav Rajkumar. Together, they explain to David another form of fixing where they tailor the pitch as per their own requirements, thereby boasting of having certain ground staff also under their control, and accordingly placing large bets. There can be different forms of fixing involved if the pitch is tailored. If a bowling pitch is demanded, a person can bet on the game finishing in less than 5 days (or, on the match not ending in a draw) whereas if it is a batting pitch, they can bet on a huge 1st innings total, thereby pocketing huge sums of money. To assure David more about the plan, Robin introduces him to Tharanga Indika, the curator of the pitch at the Galle stadium in Sri Lanka, and Tharindu Mendis, a lesser known Sri Lankan player. Indika explains how he can manipulate the pitch in several ways, which can be seen in the video.
Robin then reveals that the next game to be fixed was the test match between Sri Lanka and India, held in Galle between the 26th and 30th of July in 2017. The pitch was made to favor batsmen as per Robin’s instructions. As a result, India won the toss and elected to bat first and posted a mammoth 600 runs on the board in the 1st innings. Robin had bet on the team registering a high score and subsequently, won a large amount.
The next game in contention was Sri Lanka vs Australia at Galle again, between 4th and 8thAugust in 2016. This time around, the pitch was doctored to make it more favorable to the bowlers, as a result of which the test match finished in less than two and a half days, becoming one of the shortest test matches to be played. Australia lost half their side within 100 balls in both the innings played! Furthermore 21 wickets fell in one single day (second day of play). No prizes for guessing, it was upon Robin’s instructions that the pitch was made bowler-friendly; following which he placed huge bets and took home a handsome amount. The test match between India and Australia is also mentioned, which took place in Ranchi between the 16th and 20th of March in 2017, where a particular session was rigged. Upon some investigation, it was confirmed that the ‘session’ went exactly how Munawar had scripted.
Australia were all at sea against Sri Lankan spinners and the pitch.
The most shocking revelation though, is when Gaurav proposes a business idea to David where he plans to set up a T20 tournament in the UAE which is entirely scripted, to place large bets on and earn more money. He confidently says that he has international players willing to take part in the league, who have been instructed about what they must do and have been promised a payment40 times more than any other player in the league! Robin also reveals that he has connections in the UAE National Team, and few players had agreed to take part in the scripted tournament.
Al Jazeera had taken the documentary to ICC, who refused to comment on the allegations made until they had completed their investigation.
Match fixing kills the most beautiful aspect of any sport – its unpredictability! Millions of innocent people who love the sport, and devote a lot of time, money, and effort towards it are being cheated in broad daylight, by the very players they consider their heroes. On a personal note, I still continue watching game after game despite the rigs and fixes only because of the love I have had for the sport since childhood. However, I am deeply disappointed after watching Al Jazeera’s videos and what now remains to be asked is the amount of value the sport truly holds for us if it is this easy to rig a match.
The details behind this dark secret have been uncovered by Al Jazeera. To know more click here for the video of the sting as posted by Al Jazeera.
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