PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: Tim Paine of Australia speaks with Australian Team Physio David Beakley during day one of the Third Test match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series between Australia and England at WACA on December 14, 2017 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The cricket world was horrified to learn that parts of the Third Ashes Test have been targeted by spot-fixers. These shocking claims were first brought forward by The Sun, who had sent out an undercover reporter to work alongside the spot-fixers. The ICC has since announced that they are launching a full investigation into these claims. At the moment England are in the commanding position of 305-4, courtesy of an unbeaten century from Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow reaching stumps on 75. This article examines the Ashes spot-fixing claims and looks at how it could have been fixed.
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Ashes Spot-Fixing Claims

Two Indian men claimed to be able to rig precise parts of the Third Test, ranging from the number of runs scored in a specific over to even the total number of runs scored in a session. They claimed that they could get players to read “scripts” which would tell them the exact instructions of what to do and at what times. These two men were also working alongside a man in Australia, who is supposedly working alongside current and former international players. Part of The Sun’s undercover operation involved their reporter attempting to set up a fixed passage of play, which the two men later confirmed would take place, after they spent two weeks arranging it. As well as having the ability to influence this Ashes Test, the two bookmakers also claimed to be able to spot-fix games in major tournaments such as the Big Bash League and the Indian Premier League. It is unclear at this time whether any of the spot-fixers’ attempts have been successful and at the moment there is no evidence to suggest it has been. The ICC full investigation will shed more insight into this. Australian captain Steve Smith has denied any knowledge of such spot-fixing in the Australian camp.
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How does it work?

Spot-fixing requires a large network of players and middle men. Prior to the game, these middle men talk to the players and agree on what they want to rig. During the match, to ensure that the players acknowledge what they have to do, they give a signal to the bookmakers to let them know that the fix is on. This signal can be something as simple to changing a pair of gloves to taking off their helmet and wiping their face. After this, the bookmaker knows the player will be fixing the over and will then bet large sums of money on what they agreed. In this case, part of the reason why it was able to work is that the time difference between India and Australia is only a few hours, allowing for high-frequency betting to take place. Illegal betting is a huge problem in India. The industry is worth around £100 billion a year, according to The Sun.

Cricket’s Tainted Past

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This is not the first time that spot-fixing has influenced cricket. In 2010 three Pakistan players were found guilty of bowling no-balls deliberately. This resulted in bans being imposed on Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif. Amir has since returned to his international career and has excelled for Pakistan. Other spot-fixing claims emerged a few years later in the IPL. Five players were suspended in 2012 after an undercover operation from India TV brought forward allegations of match-fixing. This problem returned a year later to the IPL, as three members of the Rajasthan Royals were arrested on the grounds of spot-fixing. Since then the Chennai Supper Kings and the Rajasthan Royals have been suspended from the IPL due to a conflict of interests in the boards, but they are set to return to the competition this year.

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