Lou Vincent cricket fix claims: dark cloud or silver lining?
Kiwi batsman reveals how he was dragged into match fixing and how the cheats operated
CRICKET is once again in the shadow of match-fixing claims after former New Zealand international Lou Vincent provided the "most detailed evidence yet" of corruption throughout the game.
The Kiwi batsman has given the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit a "treasure trove of information about matches which were targeted for spot-fixing and the names of players who were involved", says the Daily Telegraph.
A blow by blow account of Vincent's career as a fixer is carried in the Daily Mail, which says English cricket is now "facing one of its darkest hours" after his admission that he helped fix county games.
It hightlights how:
- Vincent was approached by an Indian, known as VG, while he was playing in the Indian Cricket League competition for the Chandigargh Lions in 2008. The man gave him $15,000 in cash and "a woman".
- After the first approach he was told by a "superstar friend", who cannot be named, "you are now working for me".
- In fixed matches he was told to score around 10 to 15 off 20 balls and then get out. Signals that the fix was "on" included the colour of his bat handle and pulling away when the bowler was in his run-up.
- He once "accidentally" hit a six while trying to get stumped during a match, enraging his unnamed friend. "He waved a bat around close to my head and threatened to hit me with it. He said I'd cost him millions and accused me of fixing for someone else," said Vincent.
- He deliberately "underperformed" while playing for Lancashire in 2008 in order to appease his unnamed friend after the failed fix. He also approached Lancashire batsman Mal Loye, but his overtures were rejected.
- Indian contact VG pressured him into fixing again in 2011 when he was playing for Sussex using a payment of £5,000 "as leverage to get Vincent to do what he wanted".
In total Vincent has provided details of fixing in 12 specific games while he was representing four different teams, including Sussex and Lancashire, in matches around the world.
Between six and 12 players have been identified as a result of Vincent's evidence. "Investigators from the ICC’s anti-corruption unit are working with detectives employed by cricket boards around the world to piece together a complex case which they believe will emerge as the biggest fixing scandal since the Hansie Cronje affair 14 years ago, and possibly even more significant than that," says the Telegraph.
But it's not all bad news. Michael Atherton, writing in The Times, spots a silver lining. "Despite the fact that Vincent played in hundreds of senior matches and played with hundreds of players, of varying degrees of fame, he alleges that only a handful of players and matches were affected," he says.
Vincent's claims actually serve to highlight how clean the game is. "Cricket should really breathe a huge sigh of relief."