It is easy to dismiss Ed Hawkins’s claim that the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final in Mohali was fixed as another author trying to create hype for his book.
But after 12 years of working as the Times newspaper’s betting correspondent, Hawkins is almost an insider who knows how the betting syndicate traps unsuspecting cricketers.
“When you’ve got a bookmaker making these sorts of claims, there’s never going to be too much buzz about it. What I am saying is this is a match which has had allegations about it before. It is only a small part — 1600 words — and there a rational analysis of the game which dwells in statistics, betting patterns and all kind of things. What I say is, have a read of the whole book,” Hawkins said.
Despite the International Cricket Council’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) being in place, Hawkins believes it isn’t equipped well enough to tackle this malaise.
“It’s easy to criticise the ACSU for not being able to do its work properly. Yes, there are certain areas where it lacks, such as they would be better off knowing how the betting markets work in India.
For example, someone like Ravi Sawani (former ICC ACSU chief) didn’t know what a bracket was. (Also), the workforce needs to be doubled,” he said.
Asked if the players were getting away as innocent victims, Hawkins agreed: “No one ever criticises the players, ever. In a dressing room of 16 guys, they will be the first to know when something is not right.
They need to start speaking out and leave that band-of-brothers spirit. They have to realise that the game is for them, by them and they need to start policing it them- selves.” Hawkins believes the franchise- based T20 leagues mushrooming around the world are ‘tricky’ in terms of fixing.
“T20 competitions are tricky for match-fixing and spot-fixing. Lord Paul Condon, the former ACSU chief, said he was worried about the carnival atmosphere of T20. He expressed concerns that if a player has the idea of having fun, how would it matter to him if he fixes a bracket without affecting the outcome of the game? “T20 is taken far more seriously now, but still domestic competitions are vulnerable.
Also read: Calls for probe into India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final
There are a lot of meaningless games, the domestic county games are televised now; players don’t get so much money compared to the international guys — so there’s plenty of weakness. Fixing is not an Asian problem alone, it’s a worldwide issue,” he said.