TELFORD VICE, Bulawayo
FOUR names were added to cricket’s hall of shame on Monday – Thami Tsolekile, Ethy Mbhalati, Jean Symes and Pumelela Matshikwe.
They were banned for between seven and 12 years by Cricket SA (CSA) for their involvement in attempts to fix matches in the 2015 domestic T20 competition. All admitted their guilt.
The four join Gulam Bodi, who was banned for 20 years in January for serving as the middleman between fixers and players, and Hansie Cronje, who was thrown out of the game for life in 2000 after belatedly confessing to similar charges.
CSA announced the measures at a press conference at Newlands, which they followed with a release that detailed the findings – so far – of an investigation they launched in November and that remains ongoing.
Tsolekile, a former test wicketkeeper who has previously denied fixing charges except to say that “maybe I’m guilty of not reporting (an offer to fix)”, copped the heaviest sentence – a ban of 12 years.
The release said he had been punished for “contriving to fix a match or matches …; failing to disclose to the CSA anti-corruption officer the full details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct; failing to disclose full details of matters evidencing a breach of the code (for personnel) by another participant; and obstructing or delaying the investigation by destroying evidence that was relevant to the investigation”.
Matshikwe and Mbhalati were both banned for 10 years, three of them suspended in Matshikwe’s case.
CSA said they were done for “receiving a payment or incentive to fix or contrive to influence improperly a match or matches …; making a payment which in the circumstances would bring the sport of cricket into disrepute; failing to disclose to the CSA anti-corruption officer a payment which they knew or ought to have known was given to them to procure a breach of the code (for personnel); failing to disclose details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct and failing to disclose full details of matters evidencing a breach of the code by another participant”.
Symes is out for the next seven years for “failing to disclose to the CSA anti-corruption officer a payment which he knew or ought to have known was given to him to procure a breach of the code (for personnel); failing to disclose details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code; failing to disclose full details of matters evidencing a breach of the Code by another participant; and failing to co-operate with the investigators by knowingly providing false information to them”.
The release quoted all except Tsolekile as expressing remorse.
Mbhalati: “I would like to extend my sincere apology to both CSA as well as the public for my involvement in this. I made a bad mistake which I will regret for a very long time. I would like to do all I can to prevent other players finding themselves in the difficult situation I now find myself in.”
Symes: “I deeply regret that at the end of my career, a career that I have devoted to the sport of cricket, my clubs, teams and fellow players, I have conducted myself in a manner that amounts to a contravention of the ethical code of conduct of CSA. In hindsight I would have conducted myself differently. I regret any hurt or inconvenience that I have caused my team, my fellow players, my family and friends and specifically CSA.”
Matshikwe: “I would like to apologise to my family, friends, the public who are fans of the game of cricket, my teammates, Gauteng cricket, Lions cricket and especially to CSA for my actions. I feel ashamed and I deeply regret being involved. I understand that I have to take responsibility and I accept the punishment that CSA has imposed on me. I am truly sorry.”
But it seems there is a modicum of good news amid all the bad stuff.
“Whilst there has been no evidence to suggest that an actual fix in any match was carried out, these players all participated in material discussions about match-fixing,” CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat was quoted as saying.
“In fact they all went further and accepted, or agreed to accept in the future, sums of money which they knew or ought to have known was given to them to procure a breach of the code (for personnel), or bring the game into disrepute.”
So the nastiness was nipped in the bud. This time …