Giddins banned for five years after betting on county game

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Ed Giddins, the former England pace bowler, has been found guilty of breaking the rules on county cricketers placing bets and was banned from playing in any match under the jurisdiction of the England and Wales Cricket Board for five years.

The 32-year-old, who retired at the end of last season, was punished yesterday by an ECB disciplinary panel for breaching a directive while he was a contracted county player.

He placed a £7,000 bet on Surrey, his county at the time, to lose to Northamptonshire in a National League game at Whitgift School on 3 August 2002. An investigation was launched in February, though the player's name was not released.

Giddins pleaded not guilty to the charge but did not dispute the facts brought before the panel, which was chaired by Judge Slinger. He was fined £5,000 plus £1,000 in costs. The maximum punishment of a five-year suspension "reflects the seriousness with which the discipline committee views any attempt by a registered cricketer to bet on the result of any match under ECB jurisdiction," the board stated.

Giddins did not in fact play in the match, which Northamptonshire won by 102 runs. Surrey fielded a weakened side because most of their senior players were at Headingley awaiting a Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy semi-final against Yorkshire that was repeatedly washed out.

The legislation on betting in county cricket was tightened up in the wake of the match-fixing scandal involving former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje.

Giddins, who played for four counties, courted controversy throughout his career. He left his first county, Sussex, in 1996 after a routine drugs test showed he had taken cocaine, resulting in an 19-month ban.

Always a colourful character in the largely anonymous world of county cricket, Giddins raised money while serving his drugs ban by setting up a business selling Christmas trees in south London with his friend Nadeem Shahid, a Surrey player.

Once nominated as one of Britain's most eligible bachelors, he warmed up for one season with a journey up the Amazon river, and spent £10,000 of his own money in the close season in a bid to improve his fitness and international prospects.

He played four Tests, taking 12 wickets at 20.00, including 5 for 15 in his second Test to spearhead the defeat of Zimbabwe at Lord's in 2000.