Two players were charged tonight with match-fixing by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Former New Zealand Test batsman Lou Vincent, who has already admitted his involvement in illegal activities to investigators from cricket’s world governing body, the International Cricket Council, faces 14 charges covering two matches in which he played for Sussex in 2011 .
His former county team-mate, bowler Naveed Arif, has been charged with six offences in relation to one of those games. Both players have been provisionally suspended from all cricketing activities worldwide.
Specifically Vincent’s charges cover a 40-over match between Sussex and Kent at Hove, which Sussex lost by 14 runs, and a T20 match that year between Sussex and Kent. Arif is charged with offences in the 40-over game. If found guilty, both face life bans.
Chris Watts, head of the ECB’s anti-corruption unit, said: “This has been an extremely complex and lengthy investigation co-ordinated across many jurisdictions around the world. This matter is now the subject of formal legal proceedings and we will therefore make no further comment other than to re-iterate our determination to bring to account the very small minority who seek to corrupt cricket.”
The ICC, meanwhile, is set to seek injunctions against media organisations to try to prevent further publication of fixing allegations. It feels that its inquiries have been undermined by recent exposure of documents in the Vincent case, followed by details of the evidence given to its anti-corruption team by the totally innocent Brendon McCullum, the captain of New Zealand.
It is believed that the ICC will try to avoid going to the courts but the sport’s governing body is feeling distinctly frustrated by recent events. Although investigations going back several years appear to have been sluggish and no player has been charged, it feels that publication of evidence provided by players will only hamper inquiries.
The likelihood is that some ICC charges are imminent, in which case many observers may feel they have only been brought because of the publicity. The ICC would feel aggrieved by that.
The ICC president, Alan Isaacs, intervened today to support McCullum, who has been caught up in the scandal after giving evidence to the ICC and finding details of his confidential interview leaked.
“It is terrible this has leaked,” said Isaacs. “Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, has made some enquiries and we don’t believe it has leaked from any of our people. We have taken steps to try to injunct the media to try and stop them releasing any further information they have. We are really just trying to stop them on grounds that it’s not helpful.”
The ICC’s frustration may be compounded by the ECB’s laying of charges. Its investigators had already looked into one of the matches which Vincent and Arif have been charged over and found no corrupt practice. Watts’ team have decided differently.