Cricket corruption whistle-blower is former Papplewick and Linby captain

FROM MATCH-FIXER TO WHISTLE-BLOWER -- former Papplewick and Linby captain Lou Vincent.
FROM MATCH-FIXER TO WHISTLE-BLOWER -- former Papplewick and Linby captain Lou Vincent.
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Insistent Papplewick and Linby Cricket Club have reiterated their innocence after their former captain was at the centre of a fresh corruption scandal.

Lou Vincent, who signed for Papplewick at the start of the 2013 Notts Premier League season, has lifted the lid on match-fixing allegations.

Ex-New Zealand international Vincent (35) has been exposed as the whistle-blower providing vital information to the anti-corruption unit of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC).

He is said to have named matches between 2008 and 2012 that were targeted for fixing, and also the players involved.

However, Papplewick were this week keen to distance themselves from any knowledge of Vincent’s allegations -- or indeed of any rumours surrounding his involvement.

“Of course, we had absolutely no idea,” said Michael Secretan, who was the club’s chairman when the deal for the Kiwi was thrashed out in the spring of last year.

“We would be the last people to know about such things, We don’t mix in those circles.

“Signing him came about because Robin Rhodes and myself were bouncing ideas off each other, as we did every winter, about new players.

“We were looking for players who had recently retired from first-class cricket but who could still do a job at Notts Premier League level.

“At the time, we also spoke to people like Dominic Cork, Darren Maddy and Azhar Mahmood.

“But Lou fitted the bill because although he was an overseas player, he had British nationality. He was a player with enormous talent -- an amazing batsman and a great fielder.

“He had had his share of mental-health problems, which he spoke about candidly. But when I spoke to him, he was a charming, personable individual.

“From a cricketing standpoint, he was a great signing.”

As it happened, Vincent never played a single match for Papplewick. The deal had to be scrapped because he was going through a less-than-amicable divorce with his wife and had to return to New Zealand.

However, Secretan was amazed when allegations against Vincent were first disclosed at the end of last year.

He admitted to being bewildered too because, by a remarkable concidence, another of their former big-name overseas signings, Zulqarnain Haider, was also caught up in a corruption scandal four years ago.

The Pakistani batsman, who played for Papplewick in 2007, tried to seek asylum in the UK after he was allegedly threatened for refusing to take part in the fixing of an ODI against South Africa.

What’s more, one of the players named by Vincent is Mal Loye, the former England batsman who played a couple of matches for Papplewick last summer before getting injured.

“It’s quite amusing, if that’s the right word, that three of the biggest name players to have signed for us have been involved in the investigation of betting scandals,” said Secretan.

Loye says he was approached by the New Zealander to spot-fix a Twenty20 match in 2008 when the pair opened the batting for Lancashire against Durham.

Loye ignored him and went on to make 53. But Vincent scored only one and Lancashire lost the match. Loye has since told all he knows to the cricketing authorities and will not face any disciplinary action.

Vincent played 23 Tests and 102 one-day internationals for New Zealand. He holds the record for the highest score (172) in an ODI for his country.

He had spells with four clubs in English county cricket -- Sussex, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire, as well as Lancashire.

His allegations focus not only on county matches in England but also international and domestic games across the world.

The fixing concerns players agreeing to under-perform during a set part of a match, enabling gamblers in Asia to place lucrative bets or bookmakers to manipulate the odds in Asian markets.

For instance, Vincent is understood to have deliberately got himself out, or slowed down his run-scoring, at agreed moments in a match.

He would send the message that the fix was on by either changing his bat or the colour of its grip, or by pulling away when the bowler was running in.

Now Vincent has turned from fixer to whistleblower. It appears that he has agreed a plea bargain with the ICC in the hope that he can avoid criminal prosecution for his involvement.

He is currently in hiding in New Zealand, having employed a private security firm to protect him as he fears repercussions from the Asian mafia gangs who controlled his bookmaker contacts.