Lou Vincent became the first New Zealand cricketer to be banned for life from playing the game for his involvement in match fixing.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) imposed the ban on the right-handed batsman for his role in rigging matches. The incidents occurred at an ECB domestic event in the English county circuit.
Vincent is also being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Wing of the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his involvement in rigging games in the Champions Trophy in 2012 while representing Auckland Aces, and in 2007 at the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Vincent and Black Caps Cricket Captain Brendon McCullum have been assisting in the enquiry. Chris Cairns and former fast bowler Daryl Tuffey have also been accused of match fixing in this sordid saga.
Both players have vehemently denied these accusations, and have presented their side of the story to ICC.
The underlying theme of this episode is that match fixing is still very much prevalent in international cricket. What started with Delhi Police blowing the lid of an elaborate match fixing operation in 2000 and indicting players like the ex -South African Captain, the late Hansie Cronje, the racket has continued unabated.
In 2010, three Pakistani players including then captain and Salman Butt and promising fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were convicted on charges of agreeing to fix games and were sent to jail in UK.
The most hyped T-20 League of the world, the Indian Premier League (IPL), was the hotbed of match fixing activities last year.
Indian test discard S Sreesanth led the list of shame of cricketers accused of fixing games in this cash-rich event.
Chennai Super Kings, a franchise owned by ICC President N Srinivasan, was under the cloud as his son-in-law and team director Gurunath Meiyappan (son in law of Srinivasan) being accused of spot fixing games.
Vincent has since come out in the open with his involvement in match fixing.
Crime is crime
Owing up to his mistake was a brave act by Vincent, but does not make his crime any lesser. Blaming his fragile mental state for his involvement in match fixing may have been accepted if he had offended once.
But he admitted to multiple counts of match fixing over a five-year period.
Is banning a cricketer for life nearly at the end of his playing career enough punishment? His disclosures do not make him a martyr. They have revealed that match fixing operates like an organised criminal syndicate. Trails of money are hard to track, with criminals and players across many countries involved.
When the ICC President has been barred from running the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) pending an enquiry into last year’s IPL games, how can we accept a thorough investigation into match fixing at large in world cricket by the game’s governing body?
McCullum gave a testimony to ICC in confidence that Chris Cairns approached him to fix games. What happened next is public knowledge.
There is too much secrecy involved in ICC’s operations. ICC needs to provide definite timelines on when people can expect results on the match fixing cases it is investigating. India, which is the economic powerhouse of world cricket, should consider changes to its laws allowing betting on its shores.
The Cricket World Cup 2015 matches are less than a year away.
Cricket fans are fervently hoping that the matches would be free of scandals.