Time and attitude towards betting in cricket has changed a lot. Players are now given strict instructions not to engage in any sort of betting, report suspicious approaches, and to be very careful about discussing the specifics of the match.

Things were a lot different in the eighties. Players were known to play hard on the field but party hard outside of it. Some of the biggest names of their times were pretty wild outside of the boundary. Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Vivian Richards, Ian Botham, and others were some of the players that had a run-in with fans and authorities on a constant basis.

This article, though, is about the most famous cricket bet of all time. 

Headingly 1981

Let us go back to 1981 for the Headingly Test Match. This match will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in cricket. Australia had England on the mat when the odds being offered by the bookmakers reached 500 to 1.

Dennis Lillee, a major part of the Australia side, was in the field when he saw such odds. He told his teammates that he wanted to put 500 punds on it, since you never let such odds go by. His teammates, though, told him to put up the amount on the bar after they had won the match.

As England started to claw its way back into the match, Lillee managed to put 10 GBP on the bet after which the odds soon disappeared. Now remember, 10 GBP was not insignificant in 1981 and 500 to 1 odds were truly rare. 

Even the best Indian betting sites do not offer such odds right now, otherwise we would definitely be taking a much closer look at them, no matter what the contest was.

As was destined to happen,  Ian Botham played the inning of his lifetime to drag England from followon-on to a position where Australia has to chase around 100 runs. Australia started well and was well on course to win before collapsing.

Interestingly, Dennis Lillee came out to bat and brought his side very close to vicory but could not get the job done. Australia lost the match and Lillee won 5000 GBP, a massive amount for that time.

Something like this would never fly in today’s time as the conflict of interest would make everyone very suspicious.  Dennis Lillee for his part always claimed that he never hid anything from anyone, was never called up by a single person, and never lost any sleep over his own actions.

Lillee said he saw some truly ridiculous odds and took advantage of them. He would trade all his winnings for a win in an instant but he was happy to benefit either way!