Pitch-Siding in IPL 2021

A breach in the bio-secure bubble brought the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League to an abrupt halt two days ago. The most glamorous cricket tournament in the world was smitten by the deadly Covid-19 virus and the BCCI was forced to suspend the tournament indefinitely.

The matches were held in empty stadiums and the number of personnel involved was reduced to a bare minimum. Amid all these security measures, some managed to get into the stadium with a detailed ‘pitch-siding’ plan.


Pitch siding/court-siding is the latest weapon in the arsenal of bookies. It is the act of passing off information to outsiders by cleverly utilizing the time lag between the actual match action and the ‘live’ TV coverage. The information transmitted is later used for ball-by–ball betting in illegal online platforms.

The delay in live broadcast of a match being aired on television or updated on an online platform can be anywhere around 10 seconds to a few minutes. The pitch or court-sider relays that information immediately to a bookie who places heavy bets using the ‘updated’ info. The information passed on helps bookies to change the odds and accept or reject bets.

Court siding has been extensively reported during tennis matches across the globe. Insiders who passed on information about the game have been nabbed from Wimbledon arenas and Australian Open venues.

During tennis matches, court-siders get local phones and test different providers for the best coverage and speed. They rig the phones with buttons that are easier to press without looking, by reaching into their pockets or even pressing them from outside their pockets.

Court-siders often try to get to tournaments early in the day to get seats behind one of the players for optimal viewing. They regulate their liquid intake to avoid poorly timed washroom breaks.

What happened during the IPL?

During a match between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad in New Delhi, two members of the bookie gang managed to get access to the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

One of the accused posed as a member of the housekeeping staff and the other as a health worker. They were carrying the IPL accreditation card which all category IV employees are given during the course of the match.

One of the accused used two cell phones to convey ball by ball info until he was questioned by the Anti-Corruption Unit officials. He fled the spot leaving his cell phone which the officials have kept in safe custody. The officials have also managed to get hold of his Aadhar details.

Later there were reports about the arrest of three people with alleged betting links from a team hotel.

The BCCI has clarified that no player or supporting staff has come in contact with these individuals and that there was no misconduct from anyone involved with the tournament.

“With bio bubble and no crowd around, it certainly becomes a bit easier to manage as there is no to face meeting between players and people of questionable character. When there is crowd, it becomes difficult to check anyone and everyone,” said BCCI officials.

The legality of Pitch-siding

Court-siding is not illegal in the UK and New Zealand. However tickets to most sporting events have it mentioned that it is illegal in the ‘terms and conditions’ section. Therefore an individual caught has breached a condition of entry at the venue and can be evicted and banned. In India, betting is banned, therefore, any act of pitch-siding would be considered illegal.

The recent incidents have once again brought into focus the ‘money games’ that happen behind all the glitz and glamour of the tournament. The entire cricketing community is waiting for further developments in the case while the pitches lay bare waiting for the play to resume.


Indian Express

The Hindu

News International

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George Zachariah

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