Tag Archives: England

Out damned spot (bettor) out I say

…apologies to Mr Shakespeare for that one.

So, there I was on Saturday evening enjoying a comprehensive win for the RH Corstorphine first team, hearing of how the thirds had only just scraped the points required to avoid relegation and wishing our OA and his lovely girlfriend a safe journey home to Durban.  Not to mention catching up on what had been an quite incredible day at Lords in the fourth Test, when the rumblings started to emerge on Twitter.

That august organ, the News of The World, had evidence, names and details of a spot betting scam on operation during that very fourth test match.  Whilst there have been mutterings in the past, and fairly recently too of things untoward, indeed the Sydney test between Australia and Pakistan earlier this year had been deemed to whiff a little of Grimsby, never had there been such immediate reportage of an incident of this nature.  It took years for the seeds sown by Hansie Cronje to germinate and take flower.

Cricket is a game I love.  As a friend of mine once said, “life can only be improved by cricket”.  It has a timeless nature, and regardless of how many cold, grey, damp and windswept days I’ve spent playing the game, it always evokes memories of warm sunshine, lush green grass and time passing slowly.  There is no better way to pass a day than sitting watching a match live, be it international, county or East of Scotland league.  Hence my current pastime of sitting in a scorebox, I may have stopped playing, but I still feel the need to be involved.

What angered me most about this ‘event’, is that once again a sport I love is sullied.  I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to sport, I don’t believe a person can only be a fan of one sport, and certainly don’t subscribe to the Murdochian view that football is the beginning, middle and end of sport.  I’ve lived and cringed through Ben Johnson, through the Festina affair, Lance Armstrong, “Fraud” Landis and Operation Puerta right up to “bloodgate” and the various troubles that have beset the sport of kings of late.  Each one  a knife to the guts of a sports fan cursed with an interest in “minority sports”, that catch all term used to deride anything that isn’t football and only crosses the radar of non fans when something bad happens.

I’m not naive, I know betting takes place, hell I place a few cricket bets myself via http://www.cricketbetlive.com and, I’m not ashamed to admit, one of my first thoughts was as to whether or not my potential winning bet would be paid out in the light of the events unfolding, it wasn’t on no-balls and it was paid out!  Betting will always happen, it seems to be part of the human psyche that whenever two raindrops run down a pane of glass, someone will bet on which one will reach the bottom first.

All that can be done, is to punish any players involved in draconian fashion, life bans being one option.  In this I mean a life ban, not the Pakistan Cricket Board version of a life ban, which usually extends only as long as the PCB feel the team can go on losing without the banned player….generally a couple of matches.  Heavy fines, and start by confiscating any money paid to them in order to carry out whatever action is being bet on.

At Lords it was only a couple of no-balls, but so amateurishly done that antennae started twitching automatically.  But, this would be only the thin end of the wedge.  Once a player is in someones control, the deeds can be upped, and if the suspicions of throwing the aforementioned Sydney test are correct, that just serves to show how far this can go.  Sadly, the players of the Asian teams appear to be most at risk from these nefarious types, in part because of the financial situation (players in England, India and Australia tend to be well paid at the higher levels and thus somewhat immunised), and in part because Pakistan in particular is an unstable and volatile country where sourcing weapons and men versed in using them is a little easier than elsewhere, thus giving the fraudsters a stick with which to back up the carrot when approaching a player.

I also wonder about the News of The World.  Whenever something like this breaks, it’s always the News of The World doing it.  Sven Goran Ericksson, the Fake Sheikh, Laurence Dallaglio…there’s a long list of exposes they have broken, usually involving large sums of money.  In their zeal to get a story, are they inadvertantly, or even advertantly, creating one?  Sometimes, much as when the boy cried “wolf!”, I’m never sure.

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Schadenfreude is my weakness

So there I was at the kids school on Saturday.  The Summer Fun Day providing another excuse for Master C to empty my pockets of change.  In walks a former work colleague of mine.  A guy who I knew pretty well when we worked together, he and his then girlfriend acted as witnesses at my wedding, we went to their wedding.  We lost touch after he moved to London to work, but bumped into one another on the train a while back.   He’d moved back up here to bring his kid up in Scotland.  He and his missus had moved into the same town as us, and his kid is at the same school as ours.  So far so good.  Anyway, to Saturday, and another woman walks in behind him.  She is introduced as his girlfriend and the conents of he pram she pushes, as his son.

I’m no prude, despite the fact that he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and probably would’ve been the last person I’d imagine in this situation, he’s there.  What went on in his marriage, I neither know, nor indeed care about.  What it got me thinking about was whether or not I’m a curse.

I’ve been to a fair number of weddings in my time, particlarly in the period since I got married.  The number of those marriages that are sill marriages is significantly lower.  I counted four that are still existant, and two of those are less than two years old.

Now, my marriage is far from perfect.  We have many issues to overome, and not so long ago, it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to see us split up.  We certainly don’t stay together for the tax breaks, but neither do I judge those who can’t make it work.  I just wonder, are we strange that we’ve managed to last almost 17 years?  Do we doom our friends to divorce by accepting their wedding invite?

Life eh?  What a tangled web it is….

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You may have noticed the World Cup is about to start.  I’m already getting world cup fatigue.  It’s a peculiarly British thing, and comes from the strange conflict between nation and union.  I use to be very much of the “Anyone But England” camp, but I like to think I’ve matured over the years, and from a strictly sports point of view, I reckon the whole of the UK could benefit from England winning the Cup and more especially the bid for hosting of 2018. 

Where I still fall down is with all the attendant hoopla, hype and general ill informed forgetful punditry.  Quotes like “The entire nation”, profligate use of “we”, the interminable corporate tie ins…..it goes on and on.  These are the reasons we non-English in Britain like to see it all go breasts skyward.  The shocked faces of the punditry teams, the near tearful voices of the commentators and of course all those hopelessly optimistic but now just funny confectionary wrappers.  It’s just reward for confusing England with Britain.

I’m boycotting Mars, Kellogs, Tesco and especially Carlsberg.  The last of these really should have more self respect, I mean, they’re Danish ffs, and Denmark are actually in the tournament!

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I’m conflicted.  Earlier this year I took the decision to stop playing cricket.  The club needs a scorer, i quite enjoy doing it and thought it would be the ideal means to scratch the cricket itch without putting my aging, overweight frame through the rigours of playing and training..

Due to circumstances I’ve not been anywhere near the club yet this season.  But, I’m home now, so that’s about to change.  The problem I have is that given the number of player losses over the winter, the club finds it’s playing resources stretched.  Our first team has lost 4 in a row, the seconds aren’t doing too well and the thirds, the time I was so recently a part of, have lost all 5 they’ve played so far.  Relegation is not an option, and I find it hard to resist the thought of “riding to the rescue”….until the rational brain kicks in.  I haven’t trained, I feel heavier than I did at seasons end last year, and to be brutally honest.  Bowling doesn’t look like the week link on the team.  They’ve held teams to decent totals and bowled sides out.  Run scoring seems to be the issue, and for me, a bat is for leaning on.  No, I should resist, I want to resist, I must resist…it’s the scorers hutch for me.

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