He seems to have persuaded the people in denial that there is a case to answer, writes Ted Corbett
We have reason to be grateful to Lou Vincent even though he has caused shock and awe throughout the cricket world since he turned whistle-blower and admitted years of corruption so clearly that we have wondered if there was any corner of the game unsullied by this evil.
At least he seems to have persuaded the people in denial that there is a case to answer and that bribery and spot-fixing were not only in the fervid imagination of journalists and those who wish the game ill.
Whenever this subject has been the subject of public debate in the past there has been a howl of protest. Our game was beyond such practices, even when men and boys were being sent to prison, even when those such as Hansie Cronje admitted in front of a whole nation that he had filled his bank account, invited his players to assist his schemes and caused gasps of astonishment.Criminal element
We have heard nothing from these nay-sayers this time. At last the message seems to have hit home. What the great writer Scyld Berry has called cricket’s day of shame is much worse than that. We now know that few corners of the game are unaffected by the criminal element and that we trust our money to a bookmaker at our peril.
I remember the days after the emergence of the first revelations about bookmaker contact with players, hidden from the public view by the Australian authorities and ICC for five years and making me wonder what else they had kept under wraps that made them confident they could hide this damnable secret.
It is to my discredit that I have no more than a hint of the answer to that mystery but beware. If there is a secret that will fit under a carpet cricket will find a way to sweep it there even after all the truths that have come tumbling out in the last few years.
In the midst of all the gloom in this country — where the season begins too early, the international team cannot put a dozen decent overs together and even the cricket reporters are to be paid to cover county games by the England and Wales Cricket Board rather than the agency which employs them — there is a brighter note.Flintoff’s return
Andrew Flintoff, the most personable and in many ways the most dramatically skilful of all the men who have drawn on England sweaters since the year 2000, may make a comeback. He has had discussions with his former club Lancashire, practised at their nets and given the nod to the stories that have followed.
What a joy that would be. Freddie would light up many a dark corner and there is always the hope that, aged 36 and five years into retirement, he might be recalled by England.
Do you remember him thundering to the crease and letting the ball go at 90 miles an hour? You will not know, although I do, that whatever his success he remained affable, friendly and cheeky to those he had known from the start of his career and he could, with a few amusing words, cheer the team however badly life was going.
Just a word of caution before you get too aroused by the prospect of a great allrounder coming out at Lord’s, carrying his helmet so that the sun made his blond hair glint and looking — and this was his best point — as if he could not wait to enjoy himself at the expense of the opposition.
A couple of years ago he promised us he would earn a crust as a boxer. That pledge lasted just one bout and even though he won he retired immediately.
Don’t be too shocked if this return to the crease is another one-day wonder.