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County cricket under scanner

cricket Updated: Mar 12, 2012 01:56 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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Despite a crackdown by cricket bosses and international police, match-fixing is rife in India with brazen bookies now looking to fix the outcomes of English county matches, according to an investigative report by a leading British newspaper.

The startling findings reported in The Sunday Times, written by the same reporter whose 2010 spot-fixing expose led to the jailing of three Pakistan cricketers, have been handed over to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"We are grateful for the information provided and will launch an inquiry into these serious allegations," an ICC spokesman said. "Betting on cricket in the legal and illegal markets continues to grow rapidly and, with many, many millions of dollars being bet on every match, the threat of corrupters seeking to influence the game has not gone away."

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The paper said its undercover reporters posing as bookies were told by bookmakers in Delhi that they routinely fix Tests as well as Twenty20 games in the Indian and Bangladesh Premier Leagues. They claimed to be paying up to £750,000 (Rs 5.8crore) to officials and players who could guarantee the outcome of a match.

The report said the entire operation was coordinated by the use of mobile phones that could be rented for £10 (Rs 780) a week from a Gurgaon chaiwala.

The handsets, kept hidden underneath the tea-seller's "battered wooden cart," were described as crucial because they provide gamblers with a special match 'commentary'. Punters lay bets with local bookies using the odds announced over the mobile phones.

One of the men named Vicky Seth and described as a bookie was secretly filmed by the reporters in a Gurgaon bar. He told the paper that match-fixing "will always carry on in cricket. There is just so much money involved and it's easy to do as long as people don't talk. Obviously the big money is to be made in big matches - Tests, Twenty20s, the IPL and BPL."

Seth, said to be into property business, also made the sensational allegation that the India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal was fixed, but offered no evidence.

Another Delhi bookie, who claimed to have used honey traps to lure English cricketers said: "Players are always vulnerable to approaches by pretty girls and when offered the opportunity to make fortunes for making minor adjustments in their play, it is an irresistible package."

The report follows the conviction this year of Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield, the first English cricketer to be found guilty of spot-fixing. He admitted accepting £6,000 for conceding 12 runs in his first over in a Natwest Pro40 game against Durham in 2009.

Chris Cairns is suing ex-IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in London over a 2010 tweet alleging the former New Zealand all-rounder was barred from IPL due to involvement in match-fixing during his time in the rival ICL.

They say... | Roots of corruption run deep