The self-confessed match-fixer Lou Vincent denied on Friday that he had entered into a plea bargain with anti-corruption investigators. Vincent, who has been formally charged with 14 counts under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary code, said that he “remains accountable for his actions of the past”.
In a statement issued by his lawyer in New Zealand, it was clearly implied that the former Test batsman now intends to face the disciplinary consequences of his activities. Apart from the allegations that he was involved in rigging two matches in 2011 while playing for Sussex it is understood that charges will be laid soon concerning matches in the Champions League in 2012 when Vincent was playing for Auckland Aces.
The statement said that the ECB charges arose from matters that Vincent had disclosed to the authorities. He would work through the process of dealing with them as the ECB required.
“The fact of the charges, and more are likely, dispels any notions of a plea bargain having been done, as unfortunately appears to be wrongly suggested by others,” said Vincent’s lawyer, Chris Morris. Unless the police become involved – there is as yet no sign of that as the cricketing authorities continue their own inquiries – it is difficult to envisage what sanctions might apply to Vincent, as he is retired from the game.
Presumably, he could be banned from coaching it or having any association with it. His lawyer’s statement seems to suggest that he merely wants to make a clean breast of it after years of fixing and suffering from depression.
Although the game has been shocked by the extent and duration of Vincent’s involvement in match-rigging, in five countries over four years, there is still sympathy for him. Andre Adams, a long-standing friend and team-mate, who plays for Nottinghamshire, told The New Zealand Herald that no one he had played with was more obsessed than Vincent in making the team happy.
Adams, who is understood to have spoken to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, said: “Where he’s been is a horrible place and a major contributing factor in his depression. He’s been bloody close for a few years to not being here and the scariest thing for me would be to wake up one day and hear that my mate is gone just for the sake of a few months of pain, because it’ll wash over.
“It always does. I just want Lou to enjoy being who he is, rather than hating himself. I find it two-faced when people come forward afterwards and say, ‘How could you do this or that?’ Don’t stand in a glasshouse throwing stones. I believe just about every sportsperson or human being has secrets, it’s just most people’s don’t get aired in public.
“We’re pretty tight. I’ve been a bit of a big brother to him. We consider him family and he’s still welcome any time. My wife is close to Lou and my two boys adore him. We don’t like people bagging him, because he’s had a tough few years.”
Vincent may find himself facing a rash of charges in the next few weeks. The ECB has accused him of fixing in two matches, a 40-over match between Sussex and Kent and a Twenty20 match between Sussex and Lancashire. Naved Arif, a Pakistani player who was with Sussex at the time, faces six charges in relation to the Lancashire match. Sussex lost on both occasions.
Sussex issued a statement on Friday in which it said the club were “naturally extremely disappointed” with the allegations: “Sussex have worked very closely and cooperated with the ECB Anti-Corruption unit to help establish the facts of what occurred in the two limited-overs matches during 2011 and will continue to do so.
“We believe that the education available to players and staff and the controls that have been put in place by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association put our game in a good position as we move forward.”
Vincent has already told ICC investigators about his activities in the ICC Champions League when it was played in South Africa in 2012. According to reports in Australia on Friday the head of the league’s governing council, Dean Kino, is preparing to issue charges against Vincent, who played in three matches, two of which the Aces lost.
In India, the head of the Indian Premier League, Sunil Gavaskar, said two players had reported approaches from illegal bookmakers during this year’s tournament.