London: Former England and Leicestershire cricketer Paul Nixon has revealed how he was once offered a mind-boggling five million pounds by an Indian bookie to spot-fix matches in domestic cricket in England.
In a write-up for a newspaper, Nixon revealed how he met the Indian bookie identified only as “K” at the Leicester Mariott Hotel to have a chat about a new business idea that the latter had in mind.
He said that the meeting with “K” took place on May 21, 2010.
“I strolled through the hotel’s glass doors and was greeted by K. We traded pleasantries, sat down with drinks and he briefed me about his business idea,” Nixon said.
Nixon revealed that as the conversation progressed, “K” said that he could make a lot of money if he (Nixon) chose to, both in England and abroad.
“He wasn’t talking property; he was talking cricket matches in India that were rigged. Dozens of them,” Nixon claimed.
“He explained how I could become rich if I was prepared to help throw a Twenty20 game in England,” Nixon added.
“He made it plain that if I could help things go a certain way in that game, I could make myself very wealthy. All English televised games are beamed back to India, he explained, fuelling an underground betting market worth billions. If I was able to arrange it so that we lost the first six overs, I would be quids in. If I could influence the coin toss, all the better. And should I manage to fix the result, I could become stupidly rich,” Nixon quoted “K” as telling him.
Nixon asked “K” if he was serious about what he was saying?
“By the time he had made it clear I could access five million pounds for myself and my team if I was able to organise a Twenty20 game to his wishes, my head was swirling. If I had gone higher in my bizarre haggling game, I got the feeling he would have come with me,” said Nixon.
The former England cricketer said that the first thought that came to his mind was to make a hasty exit, but then, better sense prevailed, as he wanted to know more – such as who, exactly, was K? What were his connections? Etc.
Nixon said that K went on to observe that Leicestershire’s poor form on TV was key to his scheme.
Television cameras at Grace Road had become increasingly unwelcome, once our early Twenty20 successes had passed. In 2010, the club was not a happy place and the results followed accordingly, especially, it seemed, when Sky showed up. So the theory that Leicestershire losing an apparently random game on TV wouldn’t arouse any suspicion was pretty sound. Any tracks could be covered by our mediocrity.
He revealed how “K” told him: ‘This property arrangement in Bahamas,’ said K. ‘What a great way of hiding your money.’ ‘How do you mean, hiding?’ ‘Well, every player who has been involved in this type of thing has a nice place in India, or Dubai. The Indian property market is driven by cash. There is always a way of hiding money over there.’
“K” had one more request, says Nixon – “To do what he wanted me to do, I would need the team on board. The openers would have to ‘lose’ the first six overs, and the bowlers would have to send down an allotted amount of rubbish in order to squander the game. It would have to be a group effort.”
Nixon said that he was so shocked by the interaction, that he was not able to commit, but after exiting from the hotel, he knew “with 100 per cent certainty” that “I wasn’t going to accept the offer, but kept bouncing the possibilities around in my head during the drive home.”
He told his wife Jen about it before his benefit dinner, and she said: ‘You can’t get involved in that.’
He thereafter phoned Tim Boon (Leicestershire coach), the PCA, the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, (Leicestershire captain) Matthew Hoggard and (former England captain) Michael Vaughan, who said: ‘Nico, I hate this stuff with a passion. We have got to stop this crap coming into English cricket. It absolutely sickens me.’
Nixon said that he met an anti-corruption officer who flew from Dubai and explained to him detail about his conversation with “K”.
‘We’ll be in touch if we need more,’ he said.
He met “K” next on May 26 where a mention of the IPL was made.
Nixon said that “K” told him that the IPL was a competition that “wasn’t as sweet and innocent as it looked.”
‘Look,’ he said, ‘we would love you to come on board with this. I have some money with me, in the boot, just as a thank-you stage…’ He reached to open his door. ‘No,’ I stopped him. ‘You don’t have to do that. Look, it’s early days, yeah? Let’s just wait and see how it goes.’
Nixon said: “The truth is I was feeling vulnerable. I still had no idea about who I was dealing with. I did my best to stall K, to keep him at arm’s length, and we ended much as we had in the Marriott.‘Look, let me talk to the lads. I’ll come back to you,’ I said.
The mood was never less than friendly, but I was relieved to get out of his car and head home.
The next call was from me to K. ‘Look, K, I’ve talked to the lads. We’re not interested. We can’t get involved.’
K said calmly: ‘If you know anyone who might be interested, you have my number.’
And that was that. I’ve never heard another peep from K and nothing more from the Anti- Corruption Unit. I went off to Chester-le-Street as though nothing had ever happened.