Cricinfo XI

I fought the law

Former Zimbabwe batsman Mark Vermeulen's appearance in court in Harare charged with arson is not the first time that cricketers have found themselves in trouble with the law

Andrew Miller and Martin Williamson

November 9, 2006

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Former Zimbabwe batsman Mark Vermeulen's appearance in court in Harare charged with arson is not the first time that cricketers have found themselves in trouble with the law



Leslie Hylton: executed for murder © Cricinfo
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Leslie Hylton
Leslie Hylton, who played half-a-dozen Tests for West Indies immediately before the war, holds a unique if grisly place in cricket history as the only Test cricketer to be executed. Hylton was hanged in Jamaica on May 17, 1955 after being found guilty of murdering his wife the previous year after she had confessed to adultery. Hylton told the court that he was attempting to shoot himself but had missed, an argument rather undermined when it emerged he had fired seven bullets into his wife, meaning he had to pause to reload his gun. Wisden, steadfastly skirting round anything remotely sordid even as late as the 1950s, managed to produce an obituary without mentioning the small detail that he had been executed for murder.

Phil Tufnell
Cricket's King of the Jungle has never been far from the headlines in a tempestuous career, which has included match-winning bowling performances against West Indies , New Zealand and Australia , an allegation of dope-smoking in a Christchurch toilet, a night in a psychiatric ward in Australia and countless front-page appearances during his rocky relationship with his former partner, Jane McEvoy. "In my time I've been arrested, spent a night in the cells on three separate occasions I can remember, and been hit over the head with a half brick by a man I sincerely believe wanted to kill me for the treatment of his daughter," Tufnell wrote in his autobiography, What Now?.

Ian Botham
Ian Botham's time with Queensland ended under a cloud when he was arrested by Perth police after an incident on a domestic flight when a passenger objected to some rip language being used by Botham and his state team-mates. Botham took the man's head, turned it to the front and told him it had "**** all to do with you". At the station, the officer asked Botham to sign a bat before charging him. In the end, Botham was bailed by Dennis Lillee who turned up with a six-pack and his 12-year-old son (who told his father he "wanted to be able to tell his mates he'd seen Botham behind bars") Botham pleaded guilty, was fined £400 and soon after the Queensland board decided to terminate his contract.

Abdul Qadir
Perhaps Pakistan's legendary legspinner, Abdul Qadir, had grown a bit too used to his indulgent home umpires. Because, during a tense third Test between Pakistan and West Indies at Bridgetown in 1987-88, he took great exception to umpire David Archer's refusal to uphold two appeals against Jeffrey Dujon and Winston Benjamin, who were inching their side to victory. Qadir snatched his cap back at the end of the over, stomped off to fine leg, and was roundly abused by the Bajan faithful. Perhaps a shade unwisely, Qadir decided to take his tormentors on in person, and vaulted the fence to punch one of the most vocal, a 21-year-old named Albert Auguste. The local police decided not to take any action there and then, mindful of the likelihood of further violence if the Test ended up being disrupted, but he was hauled down to the nick as soon as Dujon and Benjamin had completed a series-salvaging two-wicket win. Behind-the-scenes diplomacy ended with the tour management making a contribution to police funds in return for charges being dropped.



Roy Gilchrist: keen on ironing © Cricinfo
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Roy Gilchrist
One of the nastier pieces of work ever to have set foot on a cricket pitch, the West Indian paceman Roy Gilchrist had a penchant for bowling beamers from 18 yards, and was invariably involved in one ruckus or another, with team-mates, spectators or, on one particularly gruesome occasion, his wife, Novlyn. On June 2, 1967, while embroiled in an argument about going to a party, Gilchrist grabbed her throat with his left hand, pushed her against a wall, and branded her face with a hot iron. Six weeks later, at Manchester Crown Court, he was sentenced to three months' probation. As he delivered his verdict, the judge declared: "I hate to think English sport has sunk so far that brutes will be tolerated because they are good at games."

Wayne Larkins
He was a sublime strokemaker who played 13 Tests for England but Wayne "Ned" Larkins' cowboy attitude tended to leave his fans exasperated. And now, it seems, he has transferred those talents to his life after cricket, with both he and his girlfriend, Deborah Lines, facing jail following a £155,000 property scam. Taunton Crown Court heard in October how Lines had forged her father's signature to take over ownership of a house, which was then used to obtain a £91,000 mortgage on a holiday home in France . The case has been adjourned until January, and both defendants have been bailed.

Vallence Jupp
Jupp played for England eight times, with reasonable success, in the 1920s in a career which stretched from 1909 to 1938, but a more detailed look at his season-by-season records shows a gap in 1934 and 1935. Wisden again sheds no light on that, but in 1935 he was serving a nine-month sentence in prison after being convicted of manslaughter after his car, travelling on the wrong side of the road, collided with a motorbike and the pillion rider was killed. He was released in early June 1935 after serving four-and-a-half months but did not play that summer.



Ted Pooley: otherwise occupied when at the dawn of Test cricket © Cricinfo
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Ted Pooley
Ted Pooley should have been England's wicketkeeper in the first ever Test in March 1877, but as the game started he was still languishing in a Christchurch prison after being arrested in connection in an early-day betting scandal. In a 20-a-side match in New Zealand, a local businessman wagered Pooley at odds of 20-1 that he could not predict the individual score of each batsman. Low scores were common then, and Pooley wagered a shilling per batsman that each of their scores would be 0. For every player registering a duck he stood to earn one pound, and eight of them did - and to add to the businessman's ire, Pooley was also the umpire in the game. He refused to pay, Pooley reportedly hit him and was arrested. He was subsequently found not guilty, but by that time the Test had been over a fortnight. Click here for more.

Hansie Cronje
Cricket's ultimate JFK moment. Everyone remembers where they were when Hansie Cronje, South Africa's captain and favourite son, was fingered for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal that rocked the game in April 2000. Delhi police had got hold of a taped conversation between Cronje and a businessman, Sanjeev Chawla, which explicitly implicated three players, Pieter Strydom, Nicky Boje and Herschelle Gibbs, in a conspiracy "relating to match-fixing and betting". Cronje initially denied the charges before dramatically confessing in a late-night discussion with his board chairman, Ali Bacher. Stripped of the captaincy and disgraced, Cronje died two years later in a plane crash. Last month, after six years of avoiding trips to India , Gibbs finally faced the Delhi police, ahead of the Champions Trophy. "Boys," he told an expectant media afterwards, "I'm going to order myself a club sandwich and a coke, and I'm gonna lie right here by the pool and take in some rays for the rest of the afternoon. Right or wrong, that's what I'm going to do."

Terry Jenner
A former Australian Test legspinner, Terry Jenner is the man credited with being one of the driving forces behind the success of Shane Warne, and he is a much sought-after coach. After his playing career ended he was, by his own admission, a mess, and in September 1988 he was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after stealing his employer's funds to pay off gambling debts. "You'll find out who your ****ing friends are now Jenner," said the prison head on his arrival. Jenner served 18 months inside before starting to rebuild his life with great success. His story is superbly told in his book Over The Top.

Steve Randell
An international umpire from the age of 28, when he stood in the Australia-West Indies Test at the MCG in 1984-85, Steve Randell had a reputation as one of the best and most respected umpires in the world. But then, in August 1999, he was convicted in the Tasmanian Supreme Court on 15 separate counts of assault against nine schoolgirls between 1981 and 1982, while working as a teacher at a Catholic primary school. He was jailed for four years, ending not only his teaching career but also his umpiring one. At the time of his arrest he had stood in more Tests (33) than any other Australian. He was eventually freed on parole in 2002.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo, Martin Williamson is managing editor

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

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