Review Blog

Sep 02 2014

Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy by Ed Hawkins

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Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408169964.
(Ages: 15 - Adult) Recommended. Non-Fiction. Recount. Deceit. Biographical. Ed Hawkins is a sports journalist who for many years conversed with some of the world's most infamous bookkeepers and illegal gamblers via the social networking website, Twitter. At first the relationships were innocent enough; they mainly discussed statistics, weather conditions and their opinions on the upcoming matches outcomes.  This, however, all changed in 2011 when Ed watched one of the world's most anticipated matches. It was between Pakistan and India, a match following the recent 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, an attack on Indian soil carried out by a group of Pakistani terrorists. Patriotism was at an all time high and the estimated worldwide-televised viewings were 1 billion. As world cup semi-finals went this one was indescribable. Unfortunately, this match was tainted with illegal match fixing and Ed was notified with a message from a bookie explaining there was a script that the players were following. He watched in awe as the match of the century was beautifully choreographed. From that day he decided to meet up in person with some of the world's most notorious bookkeepers, gamblers, punters, fixers and players, exposing them. Throughout his journey he meets with them, is taught on how the business works, learns of the perks (easy money) and the disadvantages (attempted murder and blackmail) and in some cases gets to know them outside of work.
Hawkins uses vivid imagery to capture the detail of when he is addressing the tension between the two neighbouring nations of Pakistan and India and how it was in fact more than just an average game. His comparison with the game and the famous George Orwell quote that 'Sport is war minus the guns' brings a sense of urgency and patriotism between the two nations and makes the reader realise there is so much more to Cricket than the game.
I thought this was an effective attempt in appealing and catering to a reader who may not be the biggest fan of sport. Unfortunately some of the terminology and the repetition of it is quite difficult to understand and makes comprehension of the story a bit of a struggle. Flipping back and forth from the glossary gets quite tedious and interrupts the flow of reading. This book is an entertaining ride and is a must have for all fans of the sport, but can also cater to others who despise cricket. The meeting with the criminals, giving them a voice and having them explain how the world of illegal gambling works is interesting as you get a first hand idea, which in my opinion reminisces The Wolf of Wall Street. It has changed how I look at cricket forever.
Corey Joyce (Student)

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