Spot-fixing - you will never, ever be able to stop it

Original post April 28, 2010 can be found here

According to this report, IPL tournaments so far have been rife with spot-fixing - that is fixing minor elements of the game - runs in a single over, number of wides bowled etc.

The curious part of that article is that the Income Tax department are supposed to have found these crimes. What idiot would be stupid enough to put down 'big wad of cash handed to me by bookie' as a source of income? Backhanders for sportsmen, particularly in a celebrity- and cricket-obsessed culture like India are not rare. They could come from anything like turning up to open someone's new business (not a sponsor, but a 'friend of a friend' arrangement), to being a guest at some devoted fan's dinner party etc. The opportunities are always there, and there will always be people trying to become friends with players and their entourage - that is human nature.

This form of match-fixing (and it's not really fixing a match, just a minor element of it) is very hard to prove, but also, very hard to disprove. If a team owner had an axe to grind against one of his players, what's to stop him ruining a guy's career by accusing him of dropping a catch or bowling a wide deliberately. The Pakistan cricket team now is plagued with allegations of match-fixing every time they perform poorly. They were utterly thrashed in Australia last southern summer, but because they got close to winning a match and then crumbled under the pressure (because most of their players are inexperienced at the elite level of the game), idiots back in Pakistan with political agendas accused some of them of match-fixing.
The Indian and Pakistani legal system aren't as rigid as the rest of the world. If such allegations were made in England or Australia, the people pointing the finger would require solid evidence or they would be facing huge lawsuits for libel and character assassination.

Do I condone it (spot-fixing)? No. Do I believe that it is as rife as the Indian tabloid media want to suggest? No. But the only way the game can be 100% confident of it not happening is when every player is quarantined for days before a match, without any form of contact with people outside the team. And that is never going to happen...