- County Championship
Sussex 'sickened and disgusted' by fixing allegations
Sussex have made clear their shock and anger at the revelations of alleged match-fixing involving former players Lou Vincent and Naved Arif, who were last week charged with corruption by the ECB.
Mark Robinson, Sussex's head coach, said the thought of individuals working against the team "sickens and disgusts us", although he welcomed the news coming into the public domain, saying "hopefully the truth has been discovered".
Ed Joyce, the club captain, was also present for a news conference at the Merchant Taylors' School, where Sussex are playing Middlesex in the Championship. He described the anger felt by the players, who only learned of the allegations when they began to be reported in recent weeks, ahead of a formal announcement by the ECB's anti-corruption unit.
Vincent and Arif have been charged with a range of offences relating to a 40-over fixture with Kent in 2011, while Vincent faces further charges over a T20 match against Lancashire, both games that Sussex lost. They are the second county to face such an investigation, after the case involving Essex's Mervyn Westfield and Danish Kaneria, and Joyce said that the atmosphere of suspicion had spurred the club to speak publicly following a meeting between players and management.
"There's a lot of anger in the dressing room," he said. "That question about whether Sussex has a problem - that's the problem when you get a couple of alleged bad apples in your team and people start questioning things that you do. On Sunday morning, there was a huge amount of anger there because everything we do as a professional cricket team is all about winning games. To think that there could be people in your midst who are doing everything they can to not do that is the worst thing you can do to a professional sports team."
Joyce said the issue was a global one and that, while plenty of advice was now provided to players about how to report approaches, there was also a moral element to those involved with the game in shutting down the problem of fixing.
"It should be in most people's DNA from a young age," he said. "I think people know when they're doing the wrong thing, I don't think you necessarily need someone to tell you that. What's good is having the education to know when something might be coming on the horizon that you don't recognise at the time. There's great education in place from the ECB and ICC ... so everybody knows."
Sussex's chairman, Jim May, read out a letter that has been sent to all members, outlining the steps taken in conjunction with the ECB and ICC to establish the facts. With the proceedings against Vincent and Arif ongoing, he was unable to address specifics of the case but said the club had been working the authorities for some time.
In a prepared statement, Robinson said: "We are all deeply shocked by the recent allegations made against games involving Sussex. The players' ethos is built on a will to win, with the togetherness that means everybody has to drive to the same goals. The thought that anybody amongst us, at any time, may have been working against that aim sickens and disgusts us. We hope that with increased awareness and education, these alleged events will stay as a thing of the past."
Robinson also praised the work of the ECB's anti-corruption officials and said it was important that details of any alleged wrongdoing were brought to light.
"You play, you turn up and take as read that what you're seeing is right. Then you find out that maybe it wasn't the case - that's devastating," he said. "We've got a dressing room, a club that's hurting. We'd rather these things did come out because you don't want things underneath, not knowing. The ECB's anti-corruption team have done brilliantly to get to this point. We've come together, it'll make us stronger and we'll move on but at the moment there's a bit of hurt.
"Things are coming out, which is a good thing. You don't want things hidden - we want to know the truth. This isn't a Sussex thing, this is world cricket, so whatever's out there, I hope it gets discovered. The things that are in place, should lessen the chances of it happening again but that's the one good thing for me on this one, that hopefully the truth has been discovered."
The irony of the situation, as May pointed out, is that Sussex have been one of the more successful teams in the country over recent years, twice winning the Championship under Robinson, along with several limited-overs trophies. Zac Toumazi, who took over as the club's chief executive in 2013, denied that the problem was specific to Sussex. "This is an issue around two individuals, rather than a county issue," he said.
Toumazi said that the club's sponsors continued to support Sussex and pointed to developments, such as the addition of anti-corruption clauses to player contracts, as proof that fixing was being taken seriously. Sussex will hold a members' forum on June 2, during the Championship match against Nottinghamshire, to further address supporter concerns.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick