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Match-fixing: Cricket going through turmoil

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2000, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London: A provocative page in one of the many cricket websites highlights the turmoil afflicting the grand old game in the first year of the new millennium.Headed ''Cricketline Matchfixing Index'', the page purports to ''highlight the matches in which players and teams performed drastically below expectations''.The entry is a direct if cheeky response to the match-fixing crisis bubbling beneath the surface of the game. Not a day now passes without some development, revelation or rumour surfacing.Facts and rumours are hard to disentangle. ''My guess is that corruption has gone wide rather than deep,'' says Wisden Cricket Monthly editor Tim de Lisle.''It feels as if there has been an avalanche of match-fixing and betting stories, yet when you think about it there are still only a few matches which are definitely known to be fixed. Do remember that cricket has a very long history and that it was associated with betting and chicanery long before itacquired its connotations of fair play.''Fair play, as devotees of baseball realise, is a far easier equation to lose than gain. The rigging of the 1919 World Series still reverberates. It has become embedded in American culture through a minor character in F Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Great Gatsby'', whose villainy is established when he is said to have been the man who fixed the series.Events beyond the boundary affect the current England tour of Pakistan. England have avoided touring Pakistan since the acrimonious 1987-88 visit, marred by a standoff between captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana.In the interim, the Pakistanis have been angered by allegations of ball-tampering and relations remain delicate between the two teams. England are under added strain after their former captain Alec Stewart was accused by an Indian bookmaker of taking money. A similar allegation has been levelled at West Indies' batsman Brian Lara, another former captain, whose team face a thankless task against the all-conquering Australians in a five-Test series.In South Africa, Shaun Pollock has the task of restoring the image of the national team after his predecessor Hansie Cronje was banned for life for match-fixing. South Africa start a three-Test series against New Zealand on Friday.To add to administrators' woes, the Indian government cancelled on Wednesday a tour of Pakistan. (c) Reuters Limited. Click here for Restrictions


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