Tuesday 31 August 2010

News of the Screwed

The world does not really require any more comment on spot fixing, so relax - there will be none here. But there is one small element of the story that is worth mentioning.

On 2 and 9 May 2010, the News Of The World, the paper that ran Sunday's allegations, exposed John Higgins, a champion snooker player, as a match-fixer too. The stories were accompanied by a video, not dissimilar to Sunday's, that showed Higgins and his manager agreeing to fix the outcome of a snooker match. Higgins was suspended by the WPBSA, snooker's governing body. Snooker is another sport that has been haunted by fixing, and its existence as a revenue-generating TV machine is under far greater threat than cricket's.

Yet the Higgins case, superficially a damning one, has not yet stood up to examination. An investigation led by the website Sporting Intelligence raised some serious questions about the veracity of the video and the story itself. Higgins will face a disciplinary hearing in September, and he maintains his innocence.

His case is unconnected to the Pakistan one, and yet there is a gap between the requirements of a newspaper story and a proven case of spot-fixing in cricket. The News Of The World is concerned with selling newspapers, not helping cricket solve its problems. Another story is expected next Sunday, perhaps concerning the Australia-Pakistan Test in Sydney last winter.

The evidence seems far firmer with regard to Pakistan than it does with Higgins, and perhaps it is. But it might be worth not chucking any more tomatoes at donkeys until it's been properly interrogated.


Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

I did think something similar myself. Like with the Higgin's video, I thought how do we know how genuine the video really is?

We only know what NOTW is telling us. But then if they did fabricate any vidoes, surely they would be taking a massive stupid gamble - which I feel they would be very unlikely to do.

In the Higgin's video it is plausible that he is just saying what he believes needs to be said to get himself out of the room, as maybe he is not sure how dangerous the people he is meeting are.

But I suppose that dosen't explain why he is there in the first place.

Also, in both videos surely it's 'entrapment', and I'm not sure that will stand up as good enough evidence in a British court. And without a criminal conviction would ICC be prepared to throw the book at them?

If a case can't be proved it is hard to dish out punishments.

Could it really be proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the no-balls were not accidents?

But with regard to NOTW, I don't believe they did this to save the integrity of cricket, or that they are trying to uncover cheating.

They just want to sell papers and to hell with the consequences.

Sadly for certain Pakistan players, they were just easy, convenient 'donkeys' waiting to be exploited by them.

blogitforsix said...

Nice post Old Batsman! Very diplomatic stance in the midst of a tidal wave of controversy.

I've heard reports that these videos for the Pakistan match fixing may have been filmed after the events... Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes?! There are a lot of pro cricketers coming out now and telling us all about how they have been approached. I agree with Dean, its going to be so difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that these were intentional no balls.

Proof is what we need nonetheless for the integrity of the game to continue.


Anonymous said...

"Could it really be proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the no-balls were not accidents?"

Well it doesn't need to be proved, in isolation, that the no-balls in question were deliberate. It just needs to be proved that a player came to an agreement to bowl no-balls for money then did. Also, I haven't seen it but have read about a photo apparently in existence and expected to be used as evidence of the field at the moment of release on one of the no-balls - where every single fielder is looking at the batsman (as any cricketer from colts up to test match level would) except for Salman Butt who is clearly looking at Amir's foot. Not evidence on its own, but if the same can be seen for every delivery where the deal was supposed to have been applying, it starts to add up...

As an aside, another thing that's crossed my mind is, judging on how frequently umpires miss clear no-balls nowadays this was a fairly risky money-making strategy for everyone concerned!