Local bookies say it’s unlikely they will be allowed to take bets on the mid-innings result because of CA’s tight regulations, but believe the bonus-point ruling will give dodgy overseas bookies more options, potentially increasing the threat of illegal activities such as spot fixing in a competition expected to generate more than $3 billion in betting once it starts on Thursday.
But CA and Malcolm Speed, an anti-corruption expert and former International Cricket Council chief who once presided over a “go-slow” investigation of batsmen during the 2003 World Cup, deny the BBL’s latest move will increase the threat of spot fixing and pitch siding.
“It’s one of many aspects of the game that can be bet on but it would be a bit obvious. If a fixer wanted to do something, there are more subtle ways of doing it than that,” Speed said.
“I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. If you want to have an exotic field, you can choose if it’s the eighth over, the 10th over, the 12th over … and if you have got the fix in, that’s an opportunity.
“But I don’t think putting the emphasis on the 10th over is going to have the bookies doing handstands and saying: ‘That’s our opportunity, that’s the one we have been waiting for’. I don’t think it’s any different to what’s been there previously.”
While CA does not believe the 10th over will be a greater threat for spot fixing, its anti-corruption chief Sean Carroll had to give his tick of approval for the new rule.
Cricket’s governing body has a relationship with local betting agencies and has Sportradar’s integrity service to help monitor more than 140 betting sites across the globe.
CA was also set to discuss with Fox Cricket whether it would continue to allow microphones at team tactical timeouts after the 10th over. This was introduced last summer to bring the viewer closer to the action although it had initially prompted anti-corruption concerns over fears of airing detailed information that could aid bookies or punters.
Twenty20 cricket has become the sport’s biggest concern in terms of corruption fears, predominantly in countries where protocols are less stringent.
As reported by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald last December, six illegal Indian bookmakers were arrested for taking bets on the BBL.
This came as Australian anti-corruption officials were monitoring the colour of bat grips and even what side of the body a hand towel hangs and which ball of an over it is changed or used and matching this with any spike in betting markets.
Bat grips can be used as signals for a certain amount of runs being scored – or not scored – in a particular over. Should a batter in a men’s or women’s team have a different coloured grip to what they typically use, CA will hone in on any betting fluctuations.
There is no indication these methods have been used to corrupt international matches involving the Australians or in the BBL. However, CA remains on high alert and has all but banned Bangladesh star Shakib al-Hasan from playing in the BBL because of his links with bookmakers, which led to a year-long ban from the ICC.
Speed said he had full confidence in CA’s integrity measures.
“From what I see, yes, from what I hear, yes, but as [the founding ICC anti-corruption chief] Paul Condon said, it [corruption fears] will never disappear completely. You just have to police it what he called the irreducible minimum,” he said.
“That’s always a test – are you at the irreducible minimum, baring in mind there will always be some idiot out there who will try and pull something.”
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.