It's just not cricket (looking at the sporting chancers)

Where there's money there's usually some muck
Where there's money there's usually some muck

It’s rather like learning that Santa Claus doesn’t exist when you find out that cricket matches and other sporting contests you have been following might have been ‘fixed’ (were they ever broken?)

Many times I have watched matches of various kinds and thought, “There must be something fishy going on here; how could they possibly blow a lead like that?” In this context I can recall countless Black Caps matches where an outstanding period with the ball in hand has been for nought once the team took up the bat.

Sometimes these thoughts have been bolstered by some rather obvious refereeing ‘errors’ and I have wondered whether the competition organisers and the advertisers have colluded to ensure that everyone attends the third test because it has become the decider with honours shared up until that point. Sometimes even the murky hand of politics appears to have played a part such as in the Rugby World Cup in 1995, when match fixing appears to have meant poisoning the All Blacks and just to make absolutely sure of the outcome; giving an expensive gift to the referee of the final.

We have always known that match fixing was a reality, but I think few of us realised how widespread it had become until now. Furthermore many of us, me included thought that for the most part it was restricted to sports like wrestling and boxing where it was easy for one individual to take a dive and make it look reasonably convincing. Besides which, there was always an aura of seediness and a link to organised crime with boxing in particular, at least in the public perception if not so much in reality.

Team sports seemed a bit of a stretch for that sort of thing and cricket was played by such sporting chaps, wasn’t it? In fact due to its rather strange set-up cricket always seemed the ultimate good sport’s game where such phrases as “It’s just not cricket” were coined to express an unconscionably unfair situation that involved cheating. I don’t think I was alone in finding it hard to understand the point of cricket for many years before the advent of limited overs matches. I couldn’t understand why you would want to spend five days playing a game at the end of which there would be no winner. Surely sporting fixtures were all about winning and losing? Even the use of the word ‘draw’ to denote a match that in reality had no outcome seemed the ultimate in excessively good sportsmanship even if the sight of a batsman padding away ball after ball so that time ran out and they didn’t lose the match was often how these matches were ‘drawn’

As for rugby I always felt that match fixing would be too hard to organise with 30 players on the field who were usually extremely competitive people. At worst I could only see the possibility existing after the introduction of widespread sports betting where you could wager on such silly things as which team would incur the first penalty. The only real scope for fixing that I could see in Rugby apart from minor things like that was fixing by the match officials. But even then on most occasions I dismissed any misgivings I might have had about a match outcome as more likely to be disappointment or sour grapes on my part because the team I supported had lost (1995 Rugby World Cup final apart).

However the scales have been well and truly lifted from mine eyes (and it is a relief, I can tell you as they were really weighing me down). First of all there were a few cricketers from the sub-continent of India caught giving away their wickets for thirty pieces of silver and we began to hear a lot about Indian bookies and the idea was promoted that these dodgy characters were the real crooks. It seemed it was problem ‘over there’ and not something good Kiwi fellas or English chaps would engage in.

The latest revelations involving a scary number of former Black Caps and matches in a number of different locations have changed all of that.

The sad part of all of this is that most of us enjoy a good contest on the sporting field and many of us go to great lengths to enjoy the thrill of not knowing who will win until the final whistle or over. People such as me who do not subscribe to Sky avoid all media between the time of the live fixture until the replay is shown on Prime. Watching a match that you already know the outcome of is nowhere near as much fun as the excitement of not knowing whether that try or that dismissal is going to be the winning or the losing of the game.

To find that match fixing is going on has a seriously detrimental effect on one’s enjoyment. You are far more likely to see an innocent blunder as some sort of deliberate attempt to throw the match.

However on a more life changing level there is another big fixture coming up later this year and it is one that has been fraught with rort, bedevilled by devils and fixed by fixers in many countries around the globe for almost as long as man has been on the planet. It has usually been thought to happen in ‘uncivilized lands’ and not something that would ever happen ‘over here in good old New Zilland’ (don’t you just hate those who can’t open their illiterate traps wide enough to say New Zealand properly?)

But I am sorry to say, Kiwis I am your local scale remover and I have to tell you the match fixers have been hard at work right here in Godzone and they have begun fixing the biggest match of the year right here.

For the last few decades our political scene has been getting steadily shabbier and the lizard people that inhabit the halls of power have been getting slimier by the year. Dodgy back-room deals over electorate seats such as that of Epsom at the last election where a very short fraudster got back into parliament is one example of electoral manipulation for want of a better term occurred. The other obvious and more disturbing aspect to that particular incident is the motivation that existed due to collusion by politicians of all hues when the MMP legislation was drafted and allowed for the coat-tails situation to exist wherein the election of an electorate MP could in some cases allow for extra list MPs of the same persuasion to enter Parliament on the coat-tails as it were of that electee.

However this year a new factor seems to have entered the race and I think I can safely say this year’s election has already been fixed.

For several months I have been concerned about the fact that the major opposition party has been acting very strangely and not in a way that I feel is likely to lead to them being able to form a Government after September 20 this year.

At first I was just frustrated by their choices of leader. It all started when Phil Goff made a mess of things and then after an ugly internal fight between Cunlffe and Parker the party chose the compromise candidate, Shearer who was a nice guy but completely ineffective as a leader, when a pit-bull was needed.

Eventually when they finally realised how many potential votes they were leaking they went back to the drawing boards and dug up an old cartoon called David Cunliffe (no T).

Now DC has an element of the pit-bull about him, but unfortunately it is the element that makes pit-bulls candidates to go on the dangerous dogs list. He is one of those crazed sorts that bites randomly and brings forth calls for him to be put down.

Not long after taking on the (dog) role, he was found to have used a dodgy private trust to hide his campaign donations; the very sort of thing he barked out his disgust for in members of the other side of the house.

Then with the election date announced and following an eminently sensible approach from the Greens to work together to roll the current Government he turned around and bit Russel Norman. Some were already calling for him to be put down at that stage, but once again we all just thought that is what a mad dog would do and although it had the potential to lengthen the odds on a change of Government it wasn’t necessarily going to be fatal.

However with the latest revelations about him, I sense other factors might have entered the game. DC has been caught out assisting Donghua Liu with his immigration to New Zealand. For anyone outside NZ, Mr Liu is a Chinese ‘businessman’ who was allowed to immigrate to NZ against official advice from Immigration NZ thanks to the intervention of a couple of politicians from each side of the house. What is worse is that he was allowed in because he was going to bring so much money to the economy, despite only being able to count in English and since arriving here he has been the major cause of the downfall of at least one Cabinet Minister and many conflict of interest type scandals involving several more politicians including latterly Cunliffe.

Furthermore Mr Liu has shown his true colours since arriving. His first so-called multimillion dollar project is more than two years down the track still an ugly hole in the ground in Newmarket and just a few weeks ago he was convicted of clubbing his wife. I can only assume some money has greased some more palms to ensure he hasn’t had his citizenship rescinded and been shoved on the first boat back to his homeland.

However when Cunliffe got caught out did he put his hand up and say, “Yep I made some enquiries on his behalf and now I regret having done that since I have found out what a lying wife beater he is”? Nah, don’t be silly; he first of all denied having anything to do with the guy until the Nats who had asked him about it inevitably showed him the evidence at which point he feigned a brain fade rather like Key is always doing when he gets caught out. Then he went on to try and tell us all he had done nothing wrong and it was an innocent mistake blah blah blah. Even more bizarrely his party seem to be supporting him (for now anyway).

So what has this to do with match fixing?

Well I think it is obvious. DC has laid off a goodly sum on the Nats winning the election and is now going about ensuring his bet is safe. His party might be in on it too, because it is difficult to see how they could genuinely believe he (and by implication they) have any credibility left and therefore stand any chance at all of rolling what is a lame duck Government which they would have been able to hammer with ease if they had simply elected Grant Robertson when Goff went. I can’t believe they think it is too late to change leaders now this close to an election when in reality it is too late not to.

Hopefully I am wrong and DC will get the DCM and there might still be a small chance we will see a change on the treasury benches this year.

In the meantime I’m going to see a bookie about a good tip I have on this year’s election.

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