In general terms, the concept of cricket match fixing arises from the process of tampering with the results of an organised sport through active or passive intervention into the games, which is usually accomplished through dishonest practices such as corruption, bribery, blackmail, or through any other means.
The practice creates an unlawful and unnatural outcome of a match, which can often result in the game not living up to its true potential. Sporting events are organised according to rules that are based on an ethical code of conduct. Every participant of a game, regardless of their role, is required to follow these laws and regulations, failing which, the integrity of the game will be put into question.
In cricket, matches are fixed through different means, with the betting industry paying particular interest towards the different in-game match fixing options available due to the length of the game. Cricket fixing became hugely popular during the 80s, 90s, and the 2000s, where several illegal bookies lured wealthy clients into the industry with the promise of hefty payouts. Even to this day, we constantly come across the news of several high-profile cases where renowned personalities succumb to the allure of making money on a fixed event by making extremely large wagers without batting an eyelid.
The problem with gambling as a whole is its inherently addictive nature, where both winning and losing money on a bet creates a tendency to gamble even more. The promise of a hefty payday also forces athletes, both top-rated and minor players, into modifying their performances in select matches to derail the natural outcome of a match. Therefore, illegal bookmakers and underground bookies take undue advantage of gamblers as well as such athletes, in return for massive profits. Match fixing is always performed through dubious means, in order to force the hands of the players and change the underlying circumstances of an event according to the bookie’s requirements.
How Does Match Fixing Affect the Integrity of a Cricket Game?
Cricket is a game that involves the efforts of 22 players (11 players on each side), their substitutes, team managers, coaches, support staff, match officials, and mainly, the millions of fans that root for their favourite teams with heart and vigour. Cricket is one of the longest sports events in the world in terms of the duration of play, as it can take up to five days for certain versions of the game to be completed. The minimum playing time for a cricket match is three hours, which means it can easily be a full day or a week-long affair. All team players, including the supporting staff, toil hard to perform well on the day, and fans expect their teams to give their best shot every single time they walk onto the field.
In a straightforward cricket match, it also makes matters simple for punters to bet on certain events and make a profit or a loss according to the outcome. All matters considered, it is a win-win situation for all parties concerned, as a single match can be hugely exciting for fans and result in fortunes changing hands according to the natural law of order. However, this seemingly innocent industry can be a potential pitfall for honest players, as match fixing can completely ruin the authentic experience.
However, the main question of integrity and ethics in cricket and cricket betting becomes relevant when a single individual, a group of players (from the same team or different teams), or an entire team deliberately underperforms, in such a manner that they want to alter the outcome of the match as per external influence. The motivating factor can be anything, but the intent to change the course of the match for the profit of a few privileged people is nothing short of illegal and dishonest. It can also create unfavourable circumstances for punters who expect nothing but fairness and transparency in their team’s or individual’s performance.
The Different Forms of Cricket Fixing:-
Fixing in cricket matches are accomplished via two different forms, ‘Match Fixing’ and ‘Spot Fixing’, while some bookies also utilise ‘Point Shaving’. These three forms of fixing strategies in cricket have different outcomes, but the general theme can vary according to the league like match fixing in IPL , the format, and the popularity of the game.
- Match Fixing
The simplest form of cricket fixing is called match fixing, where the result of the game is fixed by the bookies. Cricket matches can have three different outcomes, Win, Lose or Draw. Therefore, by coercing a team or individual players into performing poorly, bookies can determine the winner and loser of a match and give the upper-hand to its clients. Profit margins in fixed matches are quite high, and the results can be quite profound. Fixed matches are always predetermined, and the result of the match often reflects the intentions of the players on the field. Although all types of fixing strategies are illegal, match fixing is the most frowned upon.
- Spot Fixing:
Cricket Spot fixing is the process of altering a few moments of the game, such as runs scored, extras, no-balls/wides, giving away a wicket, initiating a run-out, and other similar instances. Spot fixing may or may not have an influence on the ultimate outcome of a match, but it still gives precedence for a few gamblers and bookies, along with monetary gain for the perpetrators.
Spot fixing is often predetermined, but players who are in on the fix will send innocuous gestures to pitchsiders to give them a hint that they are about to follow a predetermined play. In such cases, pitchsiders will promptly inform the bookies and their clients about the impending fix, which can then be used by punters to take advantage of the odds.
- Point Shaving:
Although not as common in cricket, point shaving is the process of winning or losing a match within a certain margin. The margin of runs is determined by the bookie and is done to accommodate the spread betting needs of the match fixers. Point shaving is a difficult strategy in cricket fixing, as it requires the collaboration of the majority of players, which is quite impossible.