OPINION: Lou Vincent's confession over match-fixing has divided fans. Southland Times sports editor Nathan Burdon has sympathy for Vincent, but cricket writer Logan Savory has none.
On Wednesday night, like many in New Zealand, I was fixed on the telly as Lou Vincent opened up about his part in match-fixing during his cricket career.
It divided people as to how they felt about Vincent, and for me the interview just confirmed what camp I was in.
There is no sympathy here - I think the fact Lou Vincent has escaped with just a life ban from cricket is a disgrace.
In my eyes Vincent is a fraudster and it should be the justice system where his punishment ultimately comes from. From there, if he ended up in jail, I still wouldn't have an ounce of sympathy.
Vincent has been handed down a lifetime ban from cricket at a time when he was pretty much retired - is that even a punishment?
What message does that send to other cricketers pondering getting into this dark side of the game?
His interview on Wednesday night was broken up by a cut away or two of him standing on the balcony of his nice home, looking at some beautiful views on the outskirts of Auckland.
He's hardly hit rock bottom, or paid the price for his actions.
He should be put in jail just like Pakistan teenage bowler Mohammad Amir was when he was involved in the same sort of business.
He has disgraced the sport of cricket, which is what gets me boiling, but he has also committed fraud.
For one, how about the everyday bloke who might have had a flutter on Lou Vincent to be top-scorer in the Sussex game against Kent in 2011, only for Vincent to deliberately fail by getting run out for one off seven balls?
This is why I say Vincent is a fraudster.
Apparently, Vincent felt bullied into getting into this sort of corruption at the start and, yes, maybe he was an easy target given his mental state.
However, he confessed to his partner and acknowledged what he doing was completely wrong, and stated he would stop it.
Yet he still got back into the match-fixing ring after that conversation.
He knew exactly what he was doing and it was all about the dollar signs.
I am surprised he has received the sympathy he has from some quarters.
I am Lou Vincent.
Or at least, I can't say for certain that I wouldn't be.
You need to ask yourself whether you truly believe you wouldn't be either.
Disaffected, facing an uncertain future, depressed - in that situation could you be enticed to break the rules, even if it went against what you had believed in for much of your life?
Can good people do bad things and still be considered good people? Are bad people still capable of doing some good?
Vincent appears to be the very definition of the sort of player that match-fixers go after.
Vulnerable, naive, eager to please. Vincent was ripe for the picking and, once he'd fallen into the hole, he lacked the strength of character, or at least the sheer bloody-mindedness, to pull himself back out.
He's a confessed match-fixer. A cheat.
He's let down not only the game of cricket, but this country's reputation as a fair-minded sporting nation and the people closest to him. All true.
But anyone who might have punted on games he was involved in can shuffle to the back of the queue of victims, as far as I'm concerned.
You put your money down, you take your chances - especially when it comes to cricket, which we are all learning is as open to corruption as any other code.
Most of all, Vincent is guilty of human frailty. And aren't we all?
Vincent's story reminds me of professional cyclist and admitted drugs cheat Tyler Hamilton.
One of Lance Armstrong's trusted lieutenants, Hamilton would eventually be a major factor in the seven-time Tour de France winner's downfall.
Like Vincent, those who stood against Armstrong over the years had their credibility called into question. They were maligned and mocked, but in the end they were proved right.
Vincent, during Wednesday's television interview, even looked remarkably like Hamilton when he provided his own mea culpa to 60 Minutes in 2012, the two both sharing the same out-of-date long hairstyles.
Cycling took a long time to learn its lessons - the purge is still going on.
Rather than throwing Vincent to the wolves and scrubbing him from history's page, cricket needs to take note and shine a light on the darkness which allowed the rot to creep into his character. The game will be better for it.
- The Southland Times
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