What is being reported in the media is as if there was astray spot-fixing only involving three bowlers alone, and only one over in each of the three matches. It can’t be so for following simple reasons and facts.
1. How could bookies know well in advance that these particular players would be playing in those matches, the trio not being the regular team members? That is if the deals were struck in advance, well before the toss when the teams are announced. Police may enlighten on this aspect.
2. A bowler alone can never ensure how many runs will be scored of a particular ball or in an over, unless it is wide enough to be out of reach of batsman and/or wicketkeeper. There was not a single such ball in these three overs reported. So for scoring of particular runs, complicity of batsmen is necessary. Fielders complicity also may or may not be necessary, depending on what shot is played and what is the involvement of the fielder/s for a particular shot.
3. Chandila Over: He was to concede 14 runs in second over of his spell. And conceded exactly 14. Without batsmen knowing how many runs were to be scored of the over, Chandila alone couldn’t ensure that, without the involvement of the two batsmen since the strike changed twice through the over. Chandila as a bowler alone could ensure scoring of 14 runs only if it is guaranteed in game of cricket that a particular ball will get a particular fate i.e. if batsman and fielders are of no consequence. We all know it is not so. For example it was not in Chandila’s hands that Finch would successfully attempt a sweep for a boundary of the last ball.
4. Sreesanth’s Over: He was to concede 14 or more runs in his second over. He conceded 13 runs and bookies were happy as per police. Once again, bowler alone can only bowl lose balls but can’t ensure how many runs will be scored of a ball. Not going far, as reported, in this over itself first, third, and fourth balls were such that could be hit for boundaries, but were not. Similarly Gilchrist could or could not hit the 5th and the 6th balls for boundaries. It was not in Sreesanth’s hands. Why were bookies happy even though contractual runs were not scored? I shall address this also subsequently.
5. Chavan’s Over: He was to concede at least 13 runs in his second over. 15 runs were scored of this over and bookies must have been happy. 14 runs were scored of first 3 balls, and many more could be scored of the next 3 but only 1 run more was scored.
6. Each time why second over of the bowler’s spell? As it turns out to be, these were the 3rd, 4th and 3rd overs of the first innings of the match (in each case) respectively. Now here it is necessary to know and understand how the illegal betting market, that is so much talked about to be the reason behind fixing in the sub-continent (though I know for sure it is not limited to sub-continent), works. The standard, regular and large scale betting takes place for runs to be scored in a continuous number of overs known as session (or bracket). The current standard practice is that the first session for betting consists of first 10 overs. Sometimes, though not very common, it may be 9 or 8 or may be even 7 or 6 overs as decided by the bookies depending on how fixing has taken place (scripting has been done). There is no worthwhile betting taking place for runs to be scored in one particular over. This fact has already come out in British journalist, Hawkins’ book also.
Session betting mostly starts after first over. The bookie offers a particular score, say 66-67
for the session. That means one can bet either for 67 or more runs to be scored or less than 66 runs to be scored at the end of the session (10 overs). (If exactly 66 are scored, bookie would win and you will lose whatever was your bet). This score on offer by the bookie varies with each ball (i.e. may vary). Suppose a 4 is scored of next ball, then the session score may change to 68-69 or 69-70 as per bookie’s choice. Similarly if next 2 balls are dots, the session score may come down to 65-66 or so. In other words, the session score on offer at a time would be score on board + adopted (by the bookie) average per over x the remaining overs of the session +/- a small number depending on the momentum of the game or bookie’s whims. The betting returns are 1:1, that is for a rupee bet you lose a rupee or win a rupee.
Coming back to why 2nd over of the spell? Because these were the 3rd, 4th, and 3rd overs of the innings and the session, as mentioned and explained above. And as it turns out, these were the first overs in the session to start high scoring. 16 runs before this Chandila over had been scored in 2 overs before that, 11 runs in 3 overs had been scored before Sreesanth’s over in question, and 10 runs had been scored in 2 overs before Chavan’s 2nd over. The fixed overs thus were the first in the session to start high scoring. This is how scoring took place for the remaining overs of the session after these overs:
After Chandila’s over: 13,7, 11,5,8,6,12 a total 62 in 7 overs
After Sreesanth’s over: 4,9,14,7,7,9 a total 50 in 6 overs
After Chavan’s over: 2,8,14, 11,6, 7, 8 a total 56 in 7 overs
So the high scoring starting with the overs in question continued till the end of the session such that more than average runs per over adopted for first session (usually 7) were scored thereafter. That corroborates that fixing for this over was not something in isolation as that would have no meaning, but a part of the larger session fixing. This is also corroborated further by the fact that when Chandila (or Chavan) talked to the bookie after doing the job, the bookie told him to wait till session was over. Something like that was told by the Delhi CP in his first press conference on the subject.
Once it is clear that fixing of this over was a part of session fixing, a very pertinent and explosive question arises? How could these bookies know that 2nd over by these bowlers would be the 3rd or the 4th over of the innings? For all that matters, they could start bowling after the 10th over. And it is none’s but a captain’s prerogative when a bowler bowls. Therefore the captain of the fielding side, whosoever he may be, had to be in the knowhow.
7. Next, bookies won’t have paid these players without having ensured scoring pattern for the remaining overs of the session. Fixing just one over gives them no returns. That fixing was for the larger session is confirmed by the wording of the contracts of the fixers with Sreesanth and Chavan at least. Not any exact number of runs but ‘14 or more’ and ‘at least 13.’ Further why were bookies happy even if less than 14 runs were scored in his over? Because one run less at this stage didn’t matter much in final session score that could be covered/adjusted through remaining overs.
That would mean fixing of the first ten overs of these three matches at least, involving a number of bowlers and fielders of the fielding side, i.e. almost whole side of Rajasthan Royals, and at least all the batsmen who batted during those 10 overs from Pune, Punjab, and Mumbai. That would include a big chunk of players, based on available evidence itself (supported with irrefutable logical deductions).
8. On the larger canvass, once existence of session betting is established through utterances of CP, Delhi Police, the existence of continuous fixing with involvement of all gets established. Simply, the session betting can’t exist and continue for years as it has been, if the bookies didn’t have support of fixing. While for a match result, the bookies could control the odds based on bets being received to save them from any loss, no such book making could be possible in session betting (which is a larger market than match result as per bookies’ accounts themselves on national channels recently) and bookies would run the risk of heavy losses if they couldn’t control the scoring pattern. It is very simple and requires nothing but common-sense to understand all above.
While I write above, a bookie telling the world that it was not spot fixing but session fixing, is being telecast on Times-Now.