Wellington – Disgraced former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent says he’s “a good lad” whose participation in match-fixing – for which he is banned from cricket for life – was like “being dragged into a thick spiderweb”.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday, Vincent said he doesn’t want sympathy but hopes for understanding of how he succumbed to the temptation to fix matches.
Vincent said he was motivated by greed when he first became involved in fixing while playing in the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League. He was approached by a bookmaker who offered him $15 000 and the services of a prostitute to manipulate the outcome of games.
He reported the approach to a fellow player who he trusted, but found that player was already a match fixer.
Besides greed, Vincent was motivated by his disappointment at the end of his New Zealand international career and the feeling he could not say “no” to his “hero” to agree to get involved in fixing matches.
The 35-year-old top-order batsman was banned from cricket for life on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to 18 breaches of the England and Wales Cricket board’s (ECB’s) anti-corruption regulations in three matches in England.
“I think I felt greedy for the first time in my life,” Vincent told New Zealand’s TV3 in a televised interview on Wednesday about his reasons for agreeing to get involved in match-fixing.
“I probably had a chip on my shoulder over my career, I left New Zealand pretty heart broken and a bit angry at the system.
“And as the match-fixing world opened up to me, I thought ‘yeah, I’m going to make some big money now, so stuff the world.’”
Vincent was first approached while playing in a rebel Twenty20 competition in India in 2008, where he was invited to attend a meeting with a local businessman to discuss promotional endorsements of cricket gear.
At the meeting, however, he was offered the services of a prostitute and a large stack of American dollars.
He said he realised what was being offered, turned both down and then met a friend he was playing with – who Vincent referred to as his hero – about the approach.
“There was this moment of silence then he took a deep breath. I remember him saying ‘that’s a good cover because now you’re working for me’,” Vincent said.
“That’s when I realised, ‘wow this is happening, there’s no turning back.
“There was no way I could say no, the person I was working for was a huge role model to me.”
Vincent said he was then told how spot fixing worked and what to do for each match.
“It’s pretty simple what you can control is to under-perform,” he said.
“In my case because I was at the top of the order it was bat 20 balls and score 10-15 runs then get out. Simple as that.”
Vincent, however, made an error in one match when he accidentally hit a six while attempting to get out as planned and said he knew he was in trouble.
“I could tell straight away that I’d done wrong,” Vincent said. “I got the phone call to come meet the person I was working for.
“He sat me down on the bed, walked away and got a cricket bat and... he was walking towards me with a killer look in his eye and I thought ‘oh well this is pretty serious’.
“I was really surprised that he didn’t follow through and hit me.”
Vincent, who had been promised $50 000 a game said he never saw any of the money, probably due to his error and that he felt he had been ‘used and abused’.
When he moved to England he was approached again and told he could regain the syndicate’s trust by fixing matches there.
“It was a phone call out of nowhere by the person I was working for in (India) who happened to be in England at the same time,” he added.
“I was forgiven and told that I had to earn trust back with him and his people. I was told to underperform and prove that I was trustworthy.
“I thought that I might get paid. I might see my money.”
Vincent did what he was instructed and received payment for those performances, which ultimately lead to him being charged by the ECB.
He pleaded guilty to all 18 charges and received a life ban on Tuesday, hours after he released a statement to local media with the opening line: “My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat”.
He admitted in December he had been co-operating with ICC anti-corruption officials investigating alleged match-fixing but had never spoken publicly about his involvement until releasing Tuesday’s statement and Wednesday’s television interview. – Reuters, Sapa-AP