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Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes

Odds on a quick fix

Maybe fixing is what county cricket needs, what?

Alan Tyers

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A lone spectator enjoys the last vestiges of summer at Lord's, Cross Arrows v The President of Cross Arrows' XI, Lord's, September 11, 2006
Obligatory empty-seats horror photo © Martin Williamson
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The crowded ECB Incident Room was abuzz with chatter.

Ashen-faced gambling investigation officer "Honest" Frankie Finkleton stood up and began waving his arms about.

"Are you calling for quiet, Frankie?" asked a committee member. "Should we be quiet?"

"I don't think so," said another. "He's doing tic-tac. Look, he's signalling that the favourite in the 3.20 at Plumpton's suddenly drifted out to 7-2."

"Nobbled by one of the Essex lads, was it?" asked his colleague. "Of course, it's rife in that part of the world. I remember when Trevor Bailey fixed the 1919 World Series."

"Gentlemen, your attention please," said Frankie. "This is a dark day. County cricket faces the threat we feared most."

"Is it a very slight reduction in TV funding that could lead to the end of civilisation as we know it?" asked the committee member.

"Worse even than that," sobbed Frankie.

"Is it young people at the matches? This weekend I was at a ground that had best remain nameless, and I saw a betracksuited oaf who couldn't have been more than 47."

"Not that," said Frankie. "It's gambling on things that might happen during a county match."

"Bloody good idea," said the committee member. "Should liven it up a bit, eh what?"

"No, no," said Frankie. "We've had reports of players helping bookmakers in the Far East with all sorts of information. Betting on the total number of supporters in the crowd. Grumpiest steward. Number of articles in newspapers about the best way to reform the English game. Even the total amount of photos in the papers each April with rows of empty seats. Everything's up for grabs."

"Jolly good. Can I get a price on Mark Ramprakash making a late run for the Dorothy big one on Wizard of Oz?"

"You're not listening to me," said Frankie. "This is serious. They're not just telling people what to bet on. They're trying to influence the results of games."

"But we're always talking about making County cricket more competitive," said the committee member. "Maybe this is exactly the sort of incentive the players need."

A vote was taken to encourage more illegal gambling on matches, with trials in division two to start with, and the Incident Committee got to work on a potentially tidy little accumulator.

RSS FeedAlan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London.
Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fictional (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

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Alan Tyers
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.

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Alan Tyers Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.
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