Then IPL happened in 2008. Suddenly cricket had a new meaning. It became an event of entertainment. The mid week or weekend hangouts with friends, all were around the T-20 cricket. The pubs, lounges, bars were the mini domes where cricket became religion. And young, passionate cricket fans became the lifeline for the sports betting & gambling. Words like sessions, Khaya (bet against), Lagaya (bet for) became part of common dialect.
As frequency of T-20 cricket matches increased, so did the appetite for betting. If there was a T-20 match being played anywhere, the bookie was happy to offer a rate to place the bets. It was not long before one could place a bet on 50 over ODI’s, Test matches or even other sports. The game certainly wasn’t a just a game anymore.
The final nail in the coffin was the Ind – Pak 2011 World Cup semi-final. If somewhere as a fan, one continued to believe that betting was only a viewers vice, the same was shattered on that particular day. The SMS received on a friends phone predicting the progress of Pakistan team’s batting progress mins before their innings started was received with a great shock and a lot of scepticism, hoping for it to be a practical joke. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
The book “Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy” by Ed Hawkins is inspired by the same SMS. The book explores the working of the illegal betting industry & how without a paper trail, the industry continues to sustain & flourish on word of mouth, how Indian bookies manipulate the odds on betfair.com & how an insignificant event on the field maybe the end result of a fix. In absence of any concrete evidence, the book has refrained from naming an individual player. But it has made sure that once you have read the book, you would have lost faith in game of cricket forever.