190411 IPL
The IPL has become a hunting ground for bookies. Image Credit: AFP

When the Twenty20 was introduced, cricket fans were all excited at the new format — in fact — much more than watching one-dayers and Test matches. Cricket, known as a game of glorious uncertainties, thus turned even more glorious due to this format that could rarely predict a winner till the end.

It wasn’t the true cricket fans alone, who were thrilled by the novelty of this format but also bookies who soon realised that the course of the game could be altered quickly by influencing players and earning a killing through spot-fixing.

In India, following the huge success of the Indian Premier League (IPL), a few states started their own leagues. Arrests have now been made in connection with corruption in the Karnataka Premier League while allegation of fixing in the Tamil Nadu Premier League too have surfaced.

Bookies are on the prowl everywhere to trap cricketers. It has reached a stage where they don’t really look for renowned players, they now prey on players from associate countries, who play in the shorter format leagues. According to a recent study, a match between two little known associate countries was being watched by over 40,000 people on the mobile, ostensibly to place bets. So when a variety of methods are being adopted to reach the game to the fans, the more comfortable it has become for bookies to corrupt the game.

Bookies may have realised that since cricketers from associate countries do not earn huge money from the game, they can be easily influenced to change the course of a match.

All cricketers, starting from the stars to ordinary players, needs to be protected from these predators. They are said to be eyeing the Under-19 cricketers too, hence there is a need to tutor every budding cricketer on the dangers around them that can destroy their reputation for life.

Bookies are out to organise leagues just to bet — like it happened in Ajman last year. The credentials of all team owners need to be investigated thoroughly because they can easily trap players. In the IPL, even reputed team owners indulged in gambling on the matches.

Bookies, to meet their ends, may do anything and even invest money on a team by acting as proxy owners. The fact that they are said to be offering millions of dollars reveals how well these people are working on trying to influence the course of the game.

Every team should have a professional team manager, who can protect his players from the wrongdoers. The team management for every squad should be picked with great scrutiny too.

Permission to stage shorter format leagues anywhere in the world should be given only after due diligence is carried out. The intention of a league need not be to spread cricket but to corrupt the game too!