Cricket: Insider reveals tough England line on Vincent

By Dylan Cleaver

Lou Vincent. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Lou Vincent. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Lou Vincent was first the victim of greed and his own stupidity.

Now he might be the victim of cricket's Machiavellian politics.

Vincent was this week given 11 life bans by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), ending any hope he has of associating with the game that made him famous.

The former right-hand test batsman admitted 18 counts of match-fixing and gave anti-corruption investigators their richest haul of information into the methods and means of those who engage in spot- and match-fixing.

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The Herald understands the International Cricket Council anti-corruption unit was happy to give Vincent a "discount" on a sanction - perhaps in the range of a 25-year ban rather than life - but this was ignored by the ECB.

One explanation offered from a man familiar with the inner workings of the case was that the ECB's anti-corruption officers, led by Chris Watts, were angry that Vincent was far more forthcoming to the ICC's officers than he was to them.

"I wouldn't encourage anybody to go down this [confessional] path with the ECB," said a source.

"They just like putting heads on sticks.

"They have no understanding of players or their vulnerabilities. They bring an arrogance to the table with no empathy... whatsoever."

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chairman of the ICC's anti-corruption unit, told the Herald the difference between the two bodies' views on the length and severity of Vincent's punishment was "the width of a cigarette paper".

The ICC and New Zealand Cricket issued releases on Tuesday, supporting the ECB's decision, an understandable move that has nevertheless disappointed some stakeholders.

Players Association head Heath Mills has hit out at the severity of the penalty, saying it will be a deterrent to other cricketers wanting to report information.

Mills, who facilitated legal advice for Vincent after the former New Zealand batsman confided to him that he had been involved in fixing, said he did not want to defend the actions of the 35-year-old, but acknowledgement should be made of the assistance he gave to the investigation.

"What Lou Vincent has done is unacceptable and it required a heavy sanction," Mills said.

"However, the bigger goal here has to be the fight against corruption in our sport. The anti-corruption officers have few tools in this fight and their most important tool is information from players.

"So by not giving people credit for coming forward and providing information, you are effectively putting up a significant barrier for anyone coming forward in the future."

The ECB claimed jurisdiction over the case as some of Vincent's fixing occurred while he was playing for Lancashire and Sussex in county cricket's limited overs competitions.

"I can only assume the people making these decisions are not motivated to have players coming forward in the future," Mills said.

- additional reporting Andrew Alderson

- NZ Herald

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