Ever since cricket?s governing body took stringent measures to curb match-fixing, the sport's seedy underworld of gamblers and gangsters have found a new way to corrupt players - spot-fixing.
The latest illegal activity involves a player agreeing to perform specific acts -- something under his control like bowling a no-ball or wide or playing a dot ball -- at certain moments of a game by pre-arrangement with a bookmaker.
Televised matches, even those of seemingly little significance, like county cricket, attract huge betting in India and the Gulf where bookies make fortunes thanks to bets placed on every delivery.
Spot-fixing hit the headlines during August's Lord's Test when a sting operation by Britain's News of the World claimed that several Pakistani players took money from an alleged bookmaker Mazhar Majeed to bowl deliberate no-balls and bat maiden overs.
Scotland Yard detectives raided the Pakistan team hotel in London and reportedly confiscated large sums of money from the players' rooms and later summoned Test captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammmad Asif and Mohammad Aamer for questioning.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) provisionally suspended the trio who will appear before an anti-corruption tribunal in Doha from Thursday where they could become the first players to be banned for spot-fixing.
Punishments range from a five-year suspension to life bans.
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif, famous for blowing the whistle on match-fixing against his fellow players in 1995, said spot-fixing threatens to damage the game further if not stopped.
"I guarantee that even a delay of 30 seconds in live telecast of matches will put an end to the spot-fixing," Latif told AFP.
"The ICC has to convince its broadcasters to do that or else the game will be further hit badly."
Latif gave evidence against fellow players before a judicial inquiry into match-fixing allegations which in 2000 led to life bans for former captain Salim Malik and paceman Ataur Rehman.
The disgraced Cronje was killed in a plane crash in 2002.
These bans forced the ICC to form its Anti-Corruption Unit in 2000 with former London police chief Lord Paul Condon as its head.
But despite a crackdown, players have continued to fall into the traps.
Many observers believe spot-fixing was rife in televised county matches and during the lucrative Indian Premier League.
Despite Kaneria being released without any charges in September, he has not been cleared by the Pakistan Cricket Board for selection.
Latif said the ICC should employ former players to stop fixing.
"The ICC will have to employ former players to stop spot-fixing, and that will be the first step in the right direction," said Latif.
"Education of the players is also very important. Spot-fixing is spreading fast, so we need to take strict steps as soon as possible."
Source: AFP Global Edition