The sport that is known as the “Gentleman’s Game” is a classy sport that is played by men that possess elegance and grace. It is also known to promote fairness, hence the saying “It’s just not cricket”, which is said if something is not fair or no good. However, the nature of the game has seemed to have taken a turn and the meaning of this famous saying has been lost. Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy is an eye opener, as it reveals the alarming hidden truths as to why the game of cricket has lost its association with fair play. It is a must read for all avid cricket followers and it will leave one appalled by the underground happenings of the sport.
The book was written by the award winning sports journalist Ed Hawkins, and was first published in 2012. The sports biography is more than 200 pages long and it acts as an exposé of the occurrences that have happened in the illegal betting syndicate of the world of cricket. It contains the encounters that Hawkins has had with mobsters, cricket officials and ICC anti-corruption officials, punters, high end bookies as well as members from an organisaton that was involved in the investigation of the Hansie Cronje scandal, which had taken place in 2000.
In addition, at the end of the book, it lists almost 50 names of cricketers that were involved in fixing or that were allegedly associated with bookies and punters. Although the book can be called an exposé, some names have been omitted and disguised, but that does not take away the credentials from the book, as it explains the nature of cricket today, as well as the side of gambling that cannot be stopped in order to save the game from such vermin.
The author has written the extraordinary biography in a manner that it is simple for non-betting fans to understand the terminology used in the dark realms regarding the sport. Not only that, he explains how the betting mob operates and how the money that is generated from the functionality of the illegal betting industry in India influences how the game of cricket is played today. This is also the reason why India has immense financial leverage on the sport, which may also be the reason why there is corruption within the ICC as well.
Hawkins has done a great amount of research and investigation for the book, which alone is highly impressive. According to the thorough research done, the act of gambling and fixing have been involved in the game for a few hundred years, but it was only thoroughly examined around 2000, the period in which the Hansie Cronje fixing scandal arose.
Pictured above is the cover of the award winning sports biography.
The opening pages of Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy tells that match- and spot fixing have been recorded since 1647 in England, in order to explain that it is not something to have occurred in the 1990s for the first time. Hawkins continues by mentioning a few examples of match– and spot fixing that had occurred in the 1990s,prior to possibly the biggest fixing scandal that has been revealed in the sport that involved Hansie Cronje.
The chapter then proceeds with a recording of a conversation that occurred between Cronje and the notorious bookie, Sanjay Chawla, before a match between South Africa and the touring Indian side of the 1999-98 cricket season. The conversation was a negotiation between the two, which was used as evidence that lead to Cronje being banned from the sport for life.
What grabbed Hawkins’ interest into getting to the core of the illegal business of gambling and fixing, was the semi-final clash between India and Sri Lanka in the 2011 ICC World Cup. As he watched the game, Hawkins received text messages from an Indian bookie that explained how the game would unfold. The outcome of that match proved that all of the text messages were true, prompting Hawkins to find out more via his bookmaker contacts, but to no avail, as they were too scared to speak out. Only later it was revealed that the illegal gambling fraternity within the sport was controlled by a notorious mob in India, known as the Dawood Ibrahim gang or better known in the gambling circle as the “D-Company”.
The scary truth that the book unveils is that match- and spot fixing only need a handful of players for it to function. However, it more commonly occurs in county cricket and the IPL, due to the number of teams and games played, which means that there are more players that can be approached by bookies and a higher percentage of fixing can take place. Therefore, making the task of having the criminality of the sport eradicated a tough one.
Every avid cricket supporter should read this book, in order to get an insight to the happenings of the underworld of cricket. It unfortunately will leave one sickened, as the cancer that is deeply embedded into the “Gentleman’s Game” robs the sport of its purity. This forces you to watch every match sceptically. So, is cricket still cricket?