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Ed Hawkins causes Smoke without Fire

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TNI Bureau: The dark world of match fixing continues to haunt the game of the cricket. Now and then the allegations keep popping up pointing at a dangerous nexus between cricketers and bookies, a systemic threat to the sport. Since the first match fixing episode in which the likes of Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin got disgraced, the cricketing world has witnessed a number of shocking and shameful moments.

Recently, a major dent was made when a book with shocking revelations was released. The book titled ‘Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy’ has been written by Ed Hawkins, a sports journalist.

The book is full of some of the scandalous allegations of our times. To start with, Ed Hawkins talks about how bookies correctly predicted India’s win against Pakistan in the crucial 2011 World Cup semifinal at Mohali. According to the book, in a predetermined verdict, Pakistan cruised to 100, then threw away 5 wickets quickly and lost by a margin of 29 runs. Both the ICC and the BCCI have rejected these claims as bogus. However, the question that how bookies could be so accurate about the trajectory of Pakistan’s innings asks for more explanation.

Another claim made in the book is regarding a Test match played between England and Sri Lanka at Cardiff in May 2011. Ed Hawkins writes that a bookie, Vinay, told him that the Test match which was won by England was fixed. He points out that at the time of the match Sri Lankan players had not been paid for over eight weeks and the Sri Lankan Cricket board was struggling financially. This might have triggered them to throw away the match by getting bowled out for 82 in the second inning.

As an immediate response to Ed Hawkins’ allegations, Sri Lankan sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage issued a statement that he wants a probe on these allegations. Neither the Sri Lanka Cricket board nor the ICC have talked anything probe. One of the main reasons behind this is that a majority of ex-cricketers and officials believe that this might be an attempt by Ed Hawkins to hog the limelight.

According to them, Ed’s revelations are without much substance. According to the BCCI, Hawkins’ claim that the semifinal match between India and Pakistan was fixed is an insult to this nation of billion cricket lovers. Rameez Raja, a former Pakistani cricketer said, “I don’t think we need to give any importance to the book or claims by the journalist”.

According to the author, this book is an attempt to get under the fingernails of the bookmakers, punters and fixers who seek to corrupt cricket. However he has gone too far in painting all the stakeholders by same brush. He does raise some pertinent questions which, unfortunately, are lost in the backdrop of conjectures.

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