Friday, November 4, 2011

Banged to Rights

Sport in general and cricket in particular was given a shot in the arm yesterday when Mr Justice Cook handed down custodial sentences to the three cricketers and the agent (we use the term loosely) involved in the no ball betting scandal that has done so much to taint the name of cricket even further.

Pakistan it seems has so often been at the centre of these controversies but it would be churlish to suggest that it is restricted only to this one nation. South Africa had its' own crisis years ago with the Hanse Cronje affair and there have also been incidents including Herschelle Gibbs. Even the mighty Australian duo of Mark Waugh and Shane Warne becoming embroiled in scandal over information they supposedly passed to an Indian bookmaker.

As with most matters such as this - whether it be doping or any other form of systemic cheating - what we see is the tip of the iceberg and one sadly has to assume that the practise is much more ingrained than we would like to believe. Only a select few in cricket earn large sums of money which leaves a lot of extremely vulnerable sporstmen for the fixers to prey on.

What is refreshing this time - whilst not suggesting we take pleasure at the imprisonment of others - is that instead of simply handing down sporting bans, the full force of the law has been used. It is fraud pure and simple and the culprits must go to jail.

The press has done much to trumpet the need for 'white collar criminals' to go to jail for various heinous offences committed ranging from insider trading to sub prime mortgage selling. The fall out from the 2008 financial crisis has been huge and crimes that have a financial impact rather than say physical theft or violence now have a very high profile.

The impact of the actions of these four is no different. Huge sums of money are bet on cricket and by pre fixing the results you are defrauding those participants as well as those paying to watch the game live or those who have paid for Sports Channel subscriptions.

The write of this blog used to be an avid watcher of the Tour De France but no longer bothers as the credibility of the results cannot remotely be trusted. Every time now a freak cricket result occurs be it a batting collapse or simply a few too many wides, eyebrows will be raised and questions will be asked.

Sport is no longer just that, it is in many cases a mutli million dollar international business and therefore those that commit fraud must be subject to the same criminal sanctions that the rest of the world is subject to - No Nonsense.