Two gambling giants behind match-fixing scandal: Aamir Sohail

September 23rd, 2010 - 10:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Sep 22 (IANS) Former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail has said the recent ‘match-fixing’ scandal involving the Pakistan team is a result of a ‘battle between gambling giants’.
“It’s a battle between two gambling giants. It’s a battle between illegal bookies, mostly based in India, and legal bookies in places like England and Australia,” Sohail was quoted as saying by The News on Thursday.

“Pakistan have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he stressed.

Sohail is convinced that ‘legal’ bookmakers like Ladbrokes, William Hill and Bet Fair got sick and tired of the fact that illegal bookies were scooping the lions’ share from worldwide gambling profits and nobody was doing anything about it.

“Legal bookmakers must have been losing millions of pounds each year because of manipulation of the illegal bookmakers,” said Sohail. “They are the ones who pay big taxes and give back to the game by sponsoring cricket.”

Sohail is of the view that the entire sting operation carried out by News Of The World has put the issue of match-fixers on the operating table and thus served in the interest of legal bookmakers, who are desperate to get rid of this menace.

The former Test batsman said he has reached this conclusion after ‘connecting the dots’.

“Anybody with an analytical mind would notice these dots,” he said.

“The day this scandal broke out, we started getting statements from the likes of Shane Watson, who were clearly pointing the finger at illegal bookies and their network. There were also statements highlighting the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit’s failure to crack down on match-fixers. Then we learnt of this move by England and Australia that was aimed at highlighting the role played by India-based bookies in spreading corruption in cricket.”

Sohail said those dots were a message for Pakistan but was ignored by the country’s cricket chiefs.

“Australia and England were telling us what to do after our players got caught,” he said. “They were telling us to turn it into a global issue and question the competence of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit.”

According to Sohail, Pakistan’s cricket chiefs just messed it up.

“The PCB could have turned this calamity into an opportunity.”

Sohail said that Pakistan should have taken immediate action against the three players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - who were accused of accepting bribes from match-fixers.

“We should have roped in help from legal experts besides withdrawing the three players and keeping them away from the team till the time they cleared their names. That way we could have gained the trust of the cricket world.”

But more importantly, Sohail stressed that the PCB should have questioned the ICC over its failure to keep a check on malpractices in international cricket.

“What we hear now is that the Sydney Test (Pakistan vs Australia) was fixed. It’s the same Test that was probed by the PCB and the ICC. It was the ICC which gave it a clean chit. The PCB should have questioned the ICC over it. We could have told them ‘look it was because of you that we kept quiet on that match. Now it’s your responsibility to come clean on it’. Unfortunately, we didn’t read the situation correctly and kept making new mistakes.”

Sohail was particularly critical the comments made by Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, about the possibility of England throwing their third ODI against Pakistan at The Oval.

“There was absolutely no need to take on England,” he said. “They had helped us greatly by providing us with neutral venues. We’ve just harmed our own friend at a time when we didn’t have many. It was horrific.”

Sohail said that Pakistan can still push for a comprehensive probe into possible corruption in international cricket, across the board. “Now is the time to clean up this great sport.”

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