It has been reported, and is mentioned in many authenticated journals that betting is not a novel concept in games but is practised in many countries. If we talk about the people of India and their interest in betting, they have not maintained any physical distancing from the punters and the bookies, rather they are at the front foot to play this game of betting for a long time now. Generally, cricket is the game of talent, and before the spread of this betting in cricket, we thought of cricket as the game of gentlemen. But the introduction of punters and bookies in this game completely corrupted the essence of gentleman’s game. A couple of days ago, I was watching a cricket match and I observed both the teams comprised the players not from a specific village, town or a city but from different districts of Kashmir division. After the first innings, it came to my attention that punters have signed an agreement of two lakh fifty thousand rupees. I learnt that the gentleman’s game in our Kashmir valley is mutating into the game of punters and bookies. With the introduction of this betting, the credibility of village teams, town teams or city teams is at risk. With the introduction of agents of betting in the cricket, the talk of the town is that agent A and agent B have signed an agreement of 100K, 200K, and 300K etc in the XYZ ground amongst the talented players of the valley. A lot of reports related to cricket betting in different districts of Kashmir division are making rounds on social networking sites; that someone has sold the jewellery of his wife, someone has sold the cow, someone has sold the goat, someone has sold his mobile phone, and even some people have fallen in debt trap just because of this cricket betting. It is very much unfortunate that this ill is growing at an alarming rate not only among the invisible agents of betting but also among few talented cricketers of our valley. Writers and journalists have raised the alarm but the agents are completely intoxicated by the desire to make quick money. Not only this, these intoxicated agents have changed cricket grounds into betting grounds. They are in the process of mutilating the spirit of this game. With the advancement in information technology, people are following the mantra of skilled agents of betting and without disclosing their identity they are invisibly participating in this betting agreement and then behaving like those covid-positives who are hiding their travel history and are contributing to the mess.
In this context, the punters, the bookies and the so called big players of cricket of our Kashmir valley, who are suspected of involvement, directly or indirectly, in this betting game may mark my words that it will kill their spirit of sportsmanship, and also rob this game of all interest and enthusiasm.
Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association in collaboration with registered Cricket Clubs of Kashmir Division should trace the betting lines, identify the internal and external agents of betting and take strong action against those players who are involved in this wrong practice.
Dr. Arshed Iqbal Dar is Assistant Professor, Govt. Degree College Sumbal Sonawari, J&K