Arunabha Sengupta, cricket historian, fan and chief cricket writer at CricketCountry, claims that as dishonest betting and fixing in cricket are, they have been there since forever and they are nothing new for this game.
The most recent cricket scandal that made it into the gambling news came from the former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent, who made scandalous confessions and may turn into cricket’s first international whistle-blower.
Vincent’s confession opened the Pandora box behind cricket and made it clear for everyone that there is much more to the game that stays behind the scene, despite the fact that the Supreme Court is still not revealing the names of the other involved players.
Cricket has always been accompanied by betting and match fixing
• Cricket games have been played at high stakes since 1751
• Many novelists have described the serious ties between cricket and money throughout the years
• The first known case of match fixing comes from 1842
On the surface it seems that the difference between the game now and in the past is vast, but the reality turns out to be somewhat different. Sengupta claimed that betting and fixing games is actually something that existed in the past as much as old-school true cricket fans prefer to believe this is not true.
Sengupta used the history of the game to prove his point, starting with the fact that the romantic past of cricket is more of a myth, as since its dawn – the period of “pristine village cricket,” it was a game always played for the elites, by the skilled professionals who were hired to do the best possible job.
The game was played at extremely high stakes and the example goes back to 1751, when the match between Old Etonians and “England” had a wager of GBP 1,500 plus additional bets, making the total GBP 20,000.
It is interesting that it was not only money that was gambled, but also various properties and land. Therefore, it is not hard to believe that there were enough players who were tempted by the benefits and played according to a certain arrangement.
In the 18th century, England even passed special law against such kind of cricket fixing and betting, as the issue was turning into a huge problem.
Sengupta explained that it is not a new phenomenon that the format of the game makes it very convenient for everyone who bet on sports in the UK and everywhere else where the game is big, to place complicated bets and various combinations.
Historically speaking, the first complex guide of the game came from the Bavarian village of Schnepfental.
It was created by Johann Christian Friedrich Gutsmuths in 1796 and it was named “Cricket, a magnificent game which lends itself to being played even without money. As a game for money it is greatly preferable to cards.”
The novelist Mary Russell Mitford in 1820s, said: “A set match at Lord’s for money, hard money, between a certain number of gentlemen and players, as they are called – people who make a trade of the noble sport, and degrade it into an affair of betting and hedgings and cheatings, it may be, like boxing or horse racing.”
The first case of fixing, which became known, happened in 1842 and it involved Alfred Mynn, big name at the time.
After this match between Kent and England XI there were actual charges of fixing and “Alfred Mynn was hissed at in Maidstone Market.”
The novelist Anthony Trollope wrote in 1860s: “Cricket has become such a business that there arise doubts in the minds of the amateurs whether they can continue the sport.”
Sengupta really insisted on the fact that cricket match fixing is not a new phenomenon: “The dark, sinister shadows are not cast by the glittering spotlights of the present, their origins are literally older than the first invented electric lamps.”
He claimed that this has practically never been a gentleman’s game, despite the imagination of its most loyal fans, who preferred to ignore the reality and forget about the actual history of cricket.
Sengupta claimed that: “Cricket, played with the loftiest ideals from the pristine days of the past, has had its spotless image grotesquely tarnished by the huge ugly smudges of money grabbing palms. Spot-fixing and betting scandals have taken the game to an unprecedented low,” is complete “nonsense” of a non-existent perfect past and corrupt present.