Can anyone fix this?

Three Indian cricketers from the Rajasthan Royals IPL franchise have been arrested by Delhi police for ‘spot-fixing’. Or ‘over-fixing’ as the cops called it in their statement. Here are some FAQs I have encountered in the last 24 hours:

Q – What the hell happened?

A – Three bowlers – two ‘no-names’ and Shantakumaran Sreesanth who was once brilliantly talented and played 27 tests and 53 ODIs for India – allegedly accepted money from match-fixers to concede a given number of runs (or more) in a given over.

Q – How difficult is that to do?

A – Pretty tricky because all three players were required to concede 13 or 14 runs in their stated over and one of them was one short! He only conceded 13 and he was supposed to have conceded 14. Bowling pies is pretty straightforward but you can’t be certain that the batsman won’t top-edge one straight up in the air and be caught!

Q – How do the gamblers know which over to bet on?

A – The bowlers gave a predetermined signal. They played with their watch or, in Sreesanth’s case, he placed a towel in the top of his trousers at the start of his second over and then helpfully indulged in some stretching and loosening up exercises to allow the punters some extra time to place their bets.

Q – How much were they paid?

A – Sreesanth, who was on a contract with the Royals of $400 000, was allegedly paid around $75 000 to bowl his six pies. If proven guilty, it will end his career. Doesn’t seem worth it, does it? Doesn’t make sense. Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were on much smaller contracts so the ‘bribe’ may have been more tempting, but it’s still not worth ending their careers.

Q – So why did they do it?

A – Have you ever actually seen $50 000 in cash? Or $100 000? Has anyone held it out to you and said ‘you can have this, it’s all yours. I just need one small favour…’

Q – There are some players, though, who can’t be bought? Surely?

A – Maybe, but Hansie Cronje taught us that nobody, ever, should be presumed untouchable. Nobody. Greed and obsession can strike anyone, without reason or logic.

Q – Is this an isolated incident? Or is the IPL just a fertile breeding ground for match-fixers and gamblers?

A – The gambling industry in India, which is illegal, is worth billions of dollars a year. If organised correctly, each of those three corrupt overs could have been worth tens of millions of dollars. No, it’s not isolated. And yes, it’s very fertile.

Q – How were they caught?

A – Recorded cellphone conversations and BBMs, and tracking huge movements on the betting markets.

Q – Sad day for cricket!

A – No. It’s never a sad day when cheats and criminals are caught.

Q – How do we eradicate it?

A – That will never happen. Impossible. While there is money around, there will be corruption. And even if a cricketer is immune to the lure of money, there is love and lust, both of which can and have been used to entrap sportsmen.

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