With the cricket World Cup starting this weekend I was very interested to read David Bond's blog on Thursday with regards the precautions being taken to stop match/spot fixing in cricket. Basically I believe that:
- The players have to hand in their phones when they reach the ground.
- There are restrictions on the use of social networking sites/twitter.
- Each team is only allowed four laptops and only one of them can be connected to the internet.
- Security officials have "broader powers to monitor players" though these are not being released as they don't want people trying to influence the games to know.
- If they break any of the rules three times (such as a phone in the dressing room) they face a $5,000 fine.
I really wonder if these measures will do as they intend and at the same time whether they are necessary. I don't like these measures as it presumes guilt on everyone, everyone is restricted and as a fan I really enjoy reading the Twitter interaction. At the same time it doesn't sound like they are stopping the players having conversations away from the ground, they may be but then can you really justify monitoring every conversation, say between a player and their wife? As a result there will always be a risk and ways around any measures if a person wants to cheat desperately enough.
I much rather see strict sanctions for those found guilty, using this as a deterrent. The recent case with Butt, Asif and Ameer (/Amir - he appears to have changed the spelling of his name) should act as a warning to other players, five years is a very long time, as such I don't think we'll see Butt or Asif again in international cricket. They also are due to face criminal charges in England which could lead to them being jailed. If other players see this happen then it may well stop other people finding themselves in the same situation.
That said I still think the best way to reduce the risk would be for India to legalise and therefore regulate their betting market. This is consistent with my view on that if two parties wish to undertake a transaction that doesn't involve another person then it should be allowed. By legalising the market they will be able to monitor the activities and pick up any suspicious betting patterns.
With regards the World Cup I don't think you can look past India, their batting looks immense and their home advantage should help. I fancy Sri Lanka may also take advantage of the home support to reach the final, with South Africa and Australia the other contenders. For England anything other than a quarter final place will be a failure, that should be the minimum target, after that I guess it's luck of the draw, a semi final place I think should be seen as a success but with a good draw and a bit of luck you never know - especially the way Broad has been bowling. I just hope it's a good tournament, I am still a big fan of the 50 over game, the Twenty20 format seems to capture a bit more of the imagination for many people so this tournament needs to be a success. The last World Cup in the West Indies was very disappointing and it seems like the organisers haven't learned their lesson as at 6 weeks this tournament is too long.