India in England 2014 August 29, 2014

Cardiff intercepts bookmaking scam

ESPNcricinfo staff

In a move that will reawaken fears about the relationship between gambling and cricket, it has emerged that a spectator was ejected from the second ODI between England and India in Cardiff for allegedly relaying information to bookmakers in the subcontinent - a practice known as "court-siding".

Because of the delay on broadcast feeds for televised games, betting markets can be manipulated by those with access to information from inside the ground. Chris Watts, head of the ECB's anti-corruption unit, confirmed to the Cricket Paper, the UK's weekly cricket newspaper, that a man had been thrown out by stewards at the Swalec Stadium on Wednesday for "breaching the ticket terms and conditions".

Although not a direct attempt to influence events on the field, "court-siding" gives bookmakers a live window on the action and enables them to set their odds accordingly. The man in Cardiff is understood to have been using two laptops and a mobile phone during India's innings, before being removed from the ground. An additional ECB anti-corruption presence is likely for the final three ODIs of the series.

In recent seasons, the ECB has clamped down on such activity, amid a recognition that games televised on the subcontinent are potentially a prime target for illegal bookmakers. In 2013, nine people were thrown out of games around the country, in addition to 12 the year before.

"There have been several incidents of people being asked to leave for so-called court-siding," Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, said. "The evidence we have points to high-profile matches that are televised in Asia when there's an opportunity for people to beat the TV delay if the match is being broadcast on the Indian subcontinent.

"So they're not necessarily corrupting the match itself but engaging in corrupt activity in the sense they are getting bookies fixing the odds before the events are seen on TV in India."

The incident is likely to prompt vigilance from English authorities. Earlier this season, the ECB handed out life bans to former Sussex players Lou Vincent and Naved Arif for engaging in corrupt activity, related to fixing county games. In 2012, Mervyn Westfield, the first English cricketer to be convicted in a court of law for spot-fixing offences, admitted to taking money in order to underperform in a domestic limited-overs game that was televised on the subcontinent.