Big money betting on cricket

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

TORONTO - There was a time when cricket was renowned for its sportsmanship, good manners and, of course, a cup a’ tea and cucumber sandwiches. Those were the good old days before television revenues catapulted cricket into a big-money sport. Cricket was thrust into shame some 11 years ago when South Africa’s late captain Hansie Cronje stunned the world by admitting he was paid huge amounts to throw games.

Since then, several cricketers players have been banned for match-fixing. Nearly every major sport has had its fair share of scandal starting way back in 1919 when baseball’s White Sox conspired to throw away the World Series.

But the amount now being bet on a single cricket match is mind-boggling. Would you believe that illegal bets totalling a billion dollars were placed on one India-Pakistan match. This stunning bit of evidence came to light in a London court room that is hearing a match-fixing case against three Pakistani players.

International Cricket Council’s corruption investigator Ravi Sawani said at least $200 million is bet in Mumbai alone during a one-day game against Pakistan. British newspaper, the Sun, quoted Sawani as saying: “If you take all the Indian cities it is $1 billion on that single match.”

Gambling on cricket games in the Asian subcontinent alone has a turnover of $40-$50 billion a year, the court was told.

Would you believe that these diehard fans bet on almost everything? Even the number of players wearing caps, said Sawani. Sawani was giving evidence at the trial of Pakistanis Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif who are accused of spot-fixing. A cricket agent for the two told a hushed court that he had seven Pakistan national team players who routinely fixed matches for him.

STILL A FORCE

It appears Chris Gayle will not wear a West Indies shirt again if a comment by West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is to be believed. The relationship between Gayle and the West Indies board soured after the World Cup and the world’s most prolific opening bat has since been left out.

Gibson emphatically said “no” when asked if the team would miss Gayle in the upcoming series against Bangladesh. “We are not going to miss him because he is not here.”

No doubt West Indies will miss this destroyer, who is enjoying another glorious outing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament that pits the world’s best teams. Earlier this year, Gayle was paid a substantial $800,000 by Bangalore in the IPL and his bank account will grow significantly as he has signed to play T20 in South Africa and Australia later this year. In comparison, he would get peanuts for representing his country, but that is what he says he desperately wants to do.

Gayle tore the New South Wales bowling to shreds Friday as he hammered 92 from 41 balls to guide Bangalore to the Champions final Sunday against Mumbai Indians at Chennai. Bangalore was set a steep 204 for victory but Gayle and India’s Virat Kohli rose to the challenge. Kohli blasted a 49-ball 84 and it included three sixes and 10 boundaries. Gayle smashed eight fours and eight sixes that dented the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium roof in Bangalore.

Spare a thought for Aussie David Warner who followed up his 69-ball 135 in the quarters against Chennai Super Kings with another unbeaten knock of 123 off 68 balls against Bangalore. Mumbai Indians made 160 for five and then restricted England’s Somerset to 150 for seven despite Craig Kieswetter’s 62 in the other semi Saturday. But Somerset was unable to handle Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga’s pace as he took four for 20.

QUICK WICKETS

England opened its tour of India on Saturday with a 56-run win over Hyderabad, thanks to a hat trick by paceman Steven Finn and a superb 73 from Ravi Bopara. Finn finished with four for 28 as the home side collapsed to 163 in reply to England’s 219 ... Afghanistan was fortunate enough to escape with a draw in its four-day Intercontinental Cup encounter against the United Arab Emirates at Sharjah on Saturday. UAE piled up 428 and 228 and the visitors made 328 and 131 for seven ... England’s Graham Dilley, one of the fastest bowlers of his time, has died at the age of 52. He played 41 Tests in the 1980s, taking 138 wickets and is best remembered for helping England best the Aussies for the Ashes in 1981 and 1986-87.


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