July 2, 2014

McCullum's triumph and Vincent's shame

For New Zealand's cricketers - and cricket fans - it seems the highs are destined to never last long

A few hours after Kane Williamson picked up his Man-of-the-Match award, Vincent released his statement © WICB Media/Randy Brooks

I was a bit late for work on Tuesday morning.

My feet were dawdling down Kent Terrace, but all my care and attention was in Bridgetown, Barbados as the New Zealand bowlers ultimately brought the West Indies batsmen to their knees. It was time to chalk up a magnificent and controversy-free series victory. Pass the chalk.

I doff my white towelling hat to Mark Craig in particular. He should be re-nicknamed "Plucky" rather than "Pudgy" after his extraordinary rise to the top echelon of Kiwi cricket. It was only a few months ago that he was the last-minute ring-in after Jeetan Patel chose England's green and pleasant counties over the Test venues of the Caribbean. You have to be in to win.

Twenty-seven-year-old Craig made it to the Koru Lounge and never looked back, wheeling through 702 deliveries of vigorous offspin to snare a dozen wickets in the series - and currently boasting a better batting average than Martin Donnelly. For the third Test he leapfrogged Ish Sodhi as the premier spinner in the squad too, a staggering elevation from his recent days as an Everyman first-class cricketer.

Test series wins for New Zealand are as rare as rocking-horse excrement. Mike Hesson, Brendon McCullum and the team deserved high-fives, handshakes and hugs for masterminding the 2-1 win. Some said they deserved plaudits too, but I don't know what they are.

I made it around the corner to Courtenay Place as Kane "Steady the Ship" Williamson collected the Man-of-the-Match award - our middle-order Sea Scout having added another commanding performance to his CV.

It was a day for optimism and goodwill toward cricketing men in white. Well… half a day.

About six hours after Jamaican Jerome Taylor ended the Test with one of the most preposterous DRS referrals in history, Lou Vincent released a statement. In doing so he pre-empted the ECB's looming media release with its double-knee drop on his cricketing career.

The timing of Vincent's mea culpa and the ECB's stick-wagging could not have been worse. McCullum's victorious team would hardly have had time to order a strawberry daiquiri and bomb into the hotel pool before the stench of corruption wafted in to poison all their rum.

For New Zealand's cricketers - and cricket fans - it seems the highs are destined to never last long. As recently as February, the extraordinary Test win over India at Eden Park (remember the Great Follow-on Debate, and the day your fingernails died?) was overshadowed by a one-two punch of foolishness and desperation.

First up, Jesse Ryder's significant frame staggered in as video emerged of him off his nut in central Auckland, in some sort of ill-advised pre-match ritual. And then Chris Cairns swung like a rusty gate at a host of administrators and players in an impromptu media scrum at the Eden Park Outer Oval - unfortunately coinciding with the culmination of a rousing Test match.

For cricket in New Zealand, Tuesday was another messy mix of triumph and disaster. Pass the halcyon…

Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    I second comments made by abhitupe. Everytime a 'cheat' is revealed or comes out on his own, as we have known from several such episodes in the past (Cronje etc.), the followers of the game feel let down and disgusted. However, I would like to believe that these tainted players are the tip of the betting industry iceberg which is fed by bets put on by Joe-s and John-s on the street. Can't blame the player alone when a part of us, the followers, are in it for something more than just the innocent joy of watching a beautiful game. As for the Vincent episode, this confession could serve as a warning to young players who get sucked into these dark alleys by their 'heroes'. Beware of heroes and do your best to face the, as MJ put it long ago, 'the man in the mirror'.

  • Jonathan on July 3, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    jerome taylor's review was preposterous okay so what about neil wagner's review

  • john on July 3, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Paul, its a mess..one step ford, two back..nzc

  • john on July 3, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    I totally agree with the previous comment - Lou Vincent cannot be the only one. Based on the iceberg effect theory, for everyone that gets caught, there are 10 more that goes scot-free and 100 who never even get prosecuted. It acts like a pyramid if you like. Unfortunate reality could be that match-fixing is much more rampant than we all think - it even can go above individual player-level involvement and it is not something limited to cricket.

    Despite the wrong-doing, Lou Vincent has the courage to come forward and admit it. I wonder how many others are of that caliber. I feel the long-term answer to this may lie in two approaches. First at the coaching level - this aspect also need to be part of coaching and training that players undergo. The second aspect is to track down the people who organize/get involved such deals and hold them accountable.

  • Hamish on July 3, 2014, 1:45 GMT

    The question is why he's admitted his mistake now? Is it because he genuinely feels guilty or is it because he'd seen the evidence against him and thought it was damning? It might be that the admissions are just because he was caught already.

  • Abhishek on July 2, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    On Vincent's action. Although, I totally agree to the punishment handed over to him. At the same time, I am happy that he has come out and accepted the mistake. If he says that these things were done in cricket, I am sure that there are many more who are still playing the game. Its not as if there was one Vincent and once he goes corruption in the game will end. I am not too sure in real life whether he should be punished as well. The problem with our generation is, we will crucify anyone who is honest and comes out in the open accepts the mistake. For others, we will let them play as long as he is not proved to be guilty, whereas in the real life he is guilty. All I have to say is, after committing such shameful mistakes. It really needs courage to come out in the world who is just waiting to strike down anyone who errs. I am proud that Lou had the courage to face this situation. I am not sure others in the game will have the same Strength. For Lou's this act. Respect.

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