WHEN Australia played Zimbabwe in the World Cup cricket tournament preliminary rounds, the openers, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, took an awful amount of time to score their runs.
Haddin, one of the more adventurous openers in one-day cricket, took 66 balls to make 29 while Watson made 79 off 92 balls. Their opening stand of 61 took 18.5 overs.
As a result, soon after the match the International Cricket Conference. world cricket’s governing body, began an investigation to see whether the slow scoring had been done to aid the good work done by bookies in the subcontinent.
Spot betting is big business during tournaments of this kind and the Australian pair is not normally known for anything other than aggression.
The story was broken by an Indian paper, the Indian Express, and made big news all over the cricketing world.
As it turned out, there was smoke, but no fire and everything settled down as well as it can when a cricket tournament is being played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
As the tournament is still running through its preliminary games, most of which are quite lopsided as they pit established sides against minnows, there was much interest last week when India played South Africa.
The Indian batsmen got off to a good start and at one stage the board read 267 for the loss of one wicket with about 13 overs left. The lower-end estimate by observers was that India would get 350. The more ambitious evaluations were that 400 was within reach.
But 29 runs later, India was all out. Most of the batsmen played really stupid strokes and threw away their wickets. The top three batsmen, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir scored 73, 111 and 69 respectively.
The remaining 43 runs were scored by other eight men in the team. South Africa, which has a reputation for being a side that chokes when confronted by a task such as it faced that day, held its nerve and chased down the 297 it needed for victory.
Surprisingly, nobody has even raised the possibility that there might have been something more in the game than just careless batting. It smacks of double standards.
Both countries involved have a history of being involved in match-fixing; India’s Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Ajay jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar had to end their careers after being found guilty.
South Africa’s former captain, the late Hansie Cronje, was found guilty and two other South Africans, Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje, have avoided going to India after Cronje was caught.
The ICC has not raised even an eyebrow at the way the Indian innings collapsed. Such are the mysterious ways of the world’s cricket administrators.