`Spot-fixing` a battle between legal and illegal bookies: Sohail

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2010, 13:01 PM IST

Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail has given the spot-fixing controversy engulfing the Pakistani team a new twist, by claiming that it was due to “a battle between two gambling giants.”

When asked, “What do you really think happened in England? What is it all about?”, “It’s a battle between two gambling giants,” The News quoted Sohail, as replying.

“It’s a battle between illegal bookies, mostly based in India, and legal bookies in places like England and Australia… Pakistan have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he added.

Sohail stood convinced that ‘legal’ bookmakers, such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Bet Fair, could not go along with the fact that illegal bookies were scooping the lions’ share from worldwide gambling profits and nobody was doing anything about it.

“Legal bookmakers must have been losing millions of pounds each year because of manipulation of the illegal bookmakers,” said Sohail. “They are the ones who pay big taxes and give back to the game by sponsoring cricket.”

He said he reached this conclusion after ‘connecting the dots.’

“The day this scandal broke out, we started getting statements from the likes of Shane Watson, who were clearly pointing the finger at illegal bookies and their network. There were also statements highlighting the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit’s failure to crack down on match-fixers. Then we learnt of this move by England and Australia that was aimed at highlighting the role played by India-based bookies in spreading corruption in cricket.”

He also said that Australia and England were “telling us what to do after our players got caught… They were telling us to turn it into a global issue and question the competence of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit.”

According to Sohail, Pakistan’s cricket chiefs just messed it up at a time when “the PCB could have turned this calamity into an opportunity.”

“We should have roped in help from legal experts besides withdrawing the three players and keeping them away from the team till the time they cleared their names. That way we could have gained the trust of the cricket world,” he said, adding that the PCB should have questioned the ICC over its failure to keep a check on malpractices in international cricket.

Criticising PCB chairman Ejaz Butt for his England match throwing comment, he said, “There was absolutely no need to take on England… They had helped us greatly by providing us with neutral venues. We’ve just harmed our own friend at a time when didn’t have many. It was horrific.”

ANI