$34. That’s what you would have earned if
you put a dollar on Bangladesh to beat Australia before the first Test began. Only
a fool or a genius would have taken that bet, unless of course they knew
something the rest of us didn’t.

That’s not to accuse the Australians of
exploiting Bangladesh’s unbackability in the current Test series. We’re not
suggesting that Australia would ever throw a match. In fact, after an 18 hour
plane flight and one practise session, most teams would have a slow start, regardless
of opponent.

But as both Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Salim
Malik, and Mohammed Azharuddin will attest,
corruption and cricket are not mutually exclusive human past times. Wherever
there is a contest and someone willing to offer you odds on the result, the
potential for corruption exists.

As the ICC itself says:

The worldwide market in illegal gaming has continued to
grow as cricket’s popularity has risen. More wagers, more money and more
bookmakers add up to greater pressure on the game and those who play it.

To again use Australia
as a strictly hypothetical example, what did they have to gain from this
series? A few more points in the ICC rankings, and a
boost to their individual bowling or battling figures. Their next scheduled Test
opponent, England, will not be watching closely, largely because they’re not
scheduled to meet Australia until late November. Clearly, this series is not
subject to the same rigours from within teams as a Test series between
cricketing equals.

That, in itself, is no reason
for corruption to flourish, but it’s just another part of the challenge facing
the ICC in securing cricket’s future in countries like Bangladesh.

With strict codes of
conduct
in place for players, officials and umpires, and the ICC Anti-Corruption and
Security Unit (ACSU) now a permanent presence, the ICC knows it cannot
be complacent. As Lord Condon, chairman of the ACSU, said: “If it does (become
complacent), the problem will inevitably return.” And that would be far more damaging
to cricket than a few lop-sided Test matches.

Peter Fray

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