Somehow I doubt I have any Indian followers here, and if I do, and they are cricket fans, maybe they should leave now!
I’m old enough to remember that back in the dim, distant past, on a Saturday afternoon, on ITV, they would show wrestling, long before WWE and the like were ever dreamt about. Lets just leave it by saying that it was entertainment, not sport, I suspect even the commentator had a script to work to, in all honesty. But no one actually said there was a script, but…Yes, thats right, I mentioned it, WWE. Modern day wrestling, this time from the US, but at least to give them their due, they admit its scripted, and it can be treated by its fans as entertainment, not a sport.
Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying that supposedly clean sports arent fixed, only to a lesser degree, in different ways. Look at all the horse racing coups over the years, for starters. Fine, not every runner in those races was running according to a script, but the planning was there, and someone was picking up money ‘dishonestly’.
And its an issue that despite claims by the various boards that are getting worse, not better. Back when I first started in the betting industry, over 30 years ago, you couldnt do a single on a football match. Maybe, the cup final, and internationals, but otherwise the minimum was trebles, sometimes fivefolds for home teams, and betting on games outside the UK (apart from international matches), no chance.
Then in the early 90’s, rules were relaxed (so people could do singles on the live Sky matches, I suspect), but pretty much it was still win/draw/win, and that was it. Then we get to internet betting, and you get more markets on a match, and matches from further afield, pretty much anywhere in the world now, to be honest.
Thing is, certain folk in Eastern Europe and the like, might like to bet on football, but they dont like losing. So strange betting patterns start to creep in. And as for lower league football, last week of the season, most noticeably Italy, anything goes. I remember a game in that country where the draw price ended up at 4/11 (suited both sides), and unsurprisingly it was. Of course, some had got on at much bigger odds, but anyway.
No, this isnt just an attack on football, btw. Snooker’s record in betting fixes often makes football look innocent! Several players have had lengthy, or life bans, due to ‘interesting’ results.
Oh fine, the thing that got my ire today, cricket! Yes, in India. As several have proved over the years, match fixing is possible, but spot fixing on 1 over markets is just crazy, as a few Pakistani cricketers proved a few years back. 20 over cricket, with its wild price fluctuations simply opens itself up to opportunities like this, and the original Indian Cricket League was so in tow with the local bookmakers, you wouldnt believe. The funny thing is, the Indian Premier League (the official, and now only Indian version) took the high road about this, but…its as fixed as the ICL ever was.
Today, there was a game between Rajasthan, and Mumbai, for the final qualifying place in the semi finals. Not straight winner takes all, Mumbai actually had to win within 14.3 overs to qualify. Important factor here, there is a supposed cricketing god in India, called Sachin Tendulkar, and he played for, and now seemingly runs the Mumbai team. The other team, no cricketer worshipped in India.
So anyway, Rajasthan bat first, scoring what looked a very good score in the process, 189 in their 20 overs. So Mumbai have to score at over 13 runs an over to qualify. So Rajasthan bowl the biggest load of soft deliveries, and Mumbai are about to get there, and qualify. 2 needed to win off the last delivery that sees Mumbai through, a mix up, and a player gets run out. Then, its pointed out to everyone that if Mumbai score a boundary off the next ball, they still qualify. So the bowler bowls an inviting full toss down the leg side, the batsman hits it for 6, and Mumbai qualify. Fine, it might have been skill, but for the fact that not one Rajasthan player was showing disappointment in losing!
So, the next time anyone tells you the IPL is a genuine cricket competition, just laugh. Whether its more rigged than WWE, I dont know, that would be pretty hard. But a genuine contest, no chance, its controlled by the BCCI, and Indian bookmakers. And serious bookmakers take large bets on this, ah well…
Meaning there are too many chiefs involved, which leads me to this video, from my distant past.