Thursday 27 May 2010

Fitted up

Is dear old county cricket fixed? the Telegraph grew semi-hysterical on the subject yesterday amid speculation elsewhere that the story might be a plant to let the world know that the knobblers are around.

They are drawing a distinction here between spot fixing [player deliberately bowls a wide etc] and match fixing [results are manufactured], with an eye on the fact that around 30 domestic T20 matches will be broadcast 'overseas' [you know, where the scary men live].

Yet a great truth remains unspoken. The only way any kind of fixing can ever really be proven is if those involved come forward. That is a fact too dangerous for the corruption units to admit out loud, but they surely know it.

The briefest of glances at a random day's cricket proves the point. Yesterday for example, where the following happened:

Andre Nel made 96 for Surrey.

His last wicket partnership with Jade Dernbach took Surrey from 268-9 to 386 all out.

Leicester, having made 291 in their first innings, were dismissed for 71 in their second.

That set Glamorgan 198 to win, 33 more than they'd made in their first innings. They got them for the loss of no wickets.

Durham, county champions, lost by an innings and four runs to Kent at home in just over a day.

All of these things are odd, or at least unpredictable. But even Andre Nel is likely to make runs once in his life - that day was yesterday. These are normal variations on a theme. Yet they are all irregularities, outside of the usual. They're why you'll always need a confession to be sure.


Sidders said...

Very good points, my friend, as usual.

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Yeah, I see where you are coming from OB.

How many people have the ICC Corruption Unit found guilty over the years? I don't know for a fact, but I'd guess not too many.

Same thing in football, brown paper bags passed under tables don't leave a paper trail. Only under cover stings can usually catch people, and they always look suspicious.

Dare I say, for example, Pakistan had been involved in a match like one of the above you mentioned, people would be screaming from the rooftops that it is match fixing.

And I do believe, there has been talk that the Test they lost in Austrlia at Christmas was match fixing.

Could it be that Pakistan were just totally awful on the last day of that match, that they choked?

Same as County Cricket can quite often throw up mad results because of the lack of top class players.

The thing that annoys me the most is the way it is portrayed in the press.

There is a massive difference in match fixing and spot betting. The sports news just keeps on reporting it as match fixing, which to me is not strictly true.

While it isn't right that some bookmaker in India might ask a county bowler to bowl 2 wides in his 5th over, it is not fixing the result of the match (although it could affect the result).

I'm not denying something may go on, or trying to play down it's importance, as it needs to be sorted (how you sort it, if at all, is another matter).

But the way it is reported in the press, they would have you believe most games are as stage managed as WWE wrestling.

The Old Batsman said...

Thanks Sid. Dean, was having a conversation the other day with an Australian fan who was utterly convinced Pakistan had thrown matches on the tour down there. I tend towards the cock-up theory, but it sort of proves the point that it's impossible to know unless someone tells you. That of course feeds the media frenzy, as you say.

Anonymous said...

I agree to a certain extent, but it's also possible - and more usual - to catch match fixers by monitoring unusual betting patterns. Certainly this has been the case in tennis, snooker and horse racing, where the advent of betting exchanges has, surprisingly, made it easier to catch cheats.

Of course in cricket those patterns may not be that easy to monitor, given that much of the betting may be done through illegal foreign channels.

And a small side note: is there some irony in the telegraph trumpeting claims of match fixing when there was quite a bit of sleight of hand going on in its cricket coverage last year...

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

@ Anon,

I believe you are right about betting patterns giving some evidence, there have been recent high profile incidents in Snooker and Tennis, and for that matter some fairly low key football matches in parts of Europe.

As you suggested yourself, in cricket it seems to be underground illegal bookmakers that is the real problem, they are not going to report unusual betting patterns.

This is why there will be rumours, but no evidence. The only real evidence is the approaches to the players.

@ OB,

I can well believe people thinking they threw games down there, the obvious one when Mohammad Yousuf's captaincy chucked away (I think it was) the 2nd test, a cynical view of anyone who witnessed that would be that they threw it.

I think it was more down to incompetence as well, but as you said yourself you can never really tell, and it's easy to see why people come to these conclusions.

Tim Newman said...

I'm still hoping somebody will come up with evidence that England's matches were fixed in the 1990s, especially the ones against Australia.

Patricia said...

This is what makes cricket interesting - not match fixing - but the psychology of a group and herd mentality. The stampede!

A group who are under some stress and have plenty of time together to infect the others with either fear or great confidence will often produce a strange result as detailed in OB's post. There are very many instances of this particularly in cricket.

As for Andre Nel, he was playing agaist his former county. That is a great incentive.