Cricket: Some thoughts on match fixing and corruption

You couldn’t be a cricket fan and not either know about the recent revelations surrounding Lou Vincent’s evidence to the ICC nor have an opinion on it.

I have held fire on making a comment of any significance as I have been keen to see how things are played out in either the ICC disciplinary hearings or in the court hearings that may follow if criminal charges are laid.

That said, the more I think about it there are some issues that comment does not need to wait for those things to happen for them to made.

1. How is appropriate that Vincent’s evidence has been leaked?

Am I alone in being very bothered about the fact that Lou Vincent’s evidence has been papered all over newspapers and cricket news websites? I allude from what has been printed that Vincent has made admissions of bad conduct however he is also entitled to due process and to have details of his evidence plastered all over the cricket media before he has (or had) been charged and found guilty is reprehensible.  The ICC should be ashamed about this leak and about how this matter has been handled.

2. I know it is cheating but does cheating in games of no consequence matter?

I have scanned with interest the evidence given (allegedly) by Vincent.  It is striking that none of the allegations relating to fixing games include games on either the international stage or of a first class nature.  It is simple: the games in question are, frankly, insignificant in the realm of world cricket.  They are domestic T20 and other short form games.  This raises a question in my mind as to whether the level of culpability here is as great as if the games in question had have been a test match or an international match.  It is only my own view but I think it does.  Putting the question in the title a different way: is cheating in a match that does not matter really cheating?

3. It is obvious that this is the tip of the iceberg: what comes next might horrify … is the ICC up for it?

It sticks out like the proverbial that what has been stated in the press as being what Lou Vincent has admitted to is merely the tip of a very very large iceberg of corruption in cricket.  There is just too much money floating around the game, particularly in the subcontinent, for there not to me more going on is certainly my gut instinct.  I fear we are on the cusp of another “Cronje” incident and I wonder whether the ICC and its investigators are up to the challenge of investigating what is obviously a very sophisticated operation.  They have snared Lou Vincent here, it would seem, largely off his own admissions.  What would they be doing without said admissions?  I expect we would still not be talking about corruption in cricket because the ICC just don’t seem to have the skills to get an investigation over the line (don’t forget the last international fixing scandal was actually discovered by a British tabloid newspaper).  That needs to change and change quickly.

Corruption of any type is a scourge on society as is cheating.  I look forward to seeing what happens at the inevitable ICC disciplinary hearing / court hearings and hope that the ICC is lifting its game to find the next tranche of offenders because they are out there!

In defence of Barry O’Farrell: does the punishment fit the crime?

I have been watching the saga of Barry O’Farrell’s resignation from the premiership of New South Wales with bemusement. Is it just me or does the punishment that he had imposed on himself (resignation from the highest office in the state) fit the crime (a, seemingly, genuine error in memory on oath).

Before exploring that more, let me be clear here:

1. I am a staunch Labor supporter. In fact I have come back to the Labor party off the back of the policies of the current regime in power in Canberra having been lost to the party during the Julia v Kevin fiasco.

2. I would like to see nothing more than a Labor Premier in every state in the land as well as being Prime Minister.

Those things being said: I am just bothered by the natural justice, or more to the point the lack thereof, in the resignation of O’Farrell.

If one assumes that there is no nefarious purpose that sits behind the resignation and, similarly, that there is not further evidence of something nefarious to come, all that happened is a genuine lapse in memory.

O’Farrell was required to give evidence to the best of his knowledge and belief: which, originally, it would appear that he did. He just didn’t remember the receipt of the bottle of wine or the thank you note. Witnesses in any court proceeding give evidence on oath but that evidence can only be as good as their memory can’t it? In any ordinary proceeding what would have happened would have been the recall of the witness to clarify the evidence: nothing more and nothing less.

We are not talking about a case of perjury here. Similarly we are not talking about a witness intentionally misleading the Court. We are talking about evidence given on oath to the best of the knowledge and belief of the witness: nothing more and nothing less. Is the resignation then of O’Farrell not more than a bit heavy handed as a penalty, self imposed or otherwise?

I fully appreciate that this is a step that he has taken himself but that he felt that this was his only recourse is troubling. We, as citizens, all want a corruption free body politic and bodies like ICAC are there to investigate corruption and police it. Do we though, as citizens, want our politicians to feel like they have to resign because they forgot about a gift, among no doubt thousands of gifts, received 36 months ago? That is not what ICAC (or the other anti-corruption bodies) were set up for.

Now I concede that there were questions to be asked about O’Farrell’s relationship with Australian Water Holdings but nothing about the receipt of a bottle of wine or forgetting about it leads to a conclusion that O’Farrell is corrupt.

I am saddened that Barry O’Farrell felt there was no other option other than to resign. I think that that decision was plainly an overreaction, no doubt brought about by the likely response to his memory loss by the tabloid media. It does nothing to add to the confidence of the public in our public officials though because the punishment plainly does not fit the crime.