Jim Lyon – Wipe the stain clean with zero tolerance

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

There should be no way back - if you are bent you should be banned.

And not just given a little spell away from the game to twiddle your thumbs and gaze at your navel but kicked out for good.

The authorities in cricket may claim corruption/match-fixing/spot-fixing, call it what you want, is not rife as reports suggest but it will be soon unless there is a serious, unforgiving, no-nonsense punishment for those found guilty.

Just this week we have seen Lou Vincent and Naved Arif charged by the England & Wales Cricket Board for allegedly fixing a game while playing for Sussex in 2011.

Vincent has admitted his part in doctoring the outcome of games but you have to wonder how long he has been able to get away with it.

We are in 2014 - unless my calendar is lying to me - and he has only now been formally charged by the Board.

The game itself took place in 2011 while former Northamptonshire batsman Mal Loye says he was approached by Vincent to do some dodgy deeds when they were at Lancashire together in 2008.

And how long before that was it going on?

That hardly seems a particularly good detection rate to me.

The fact he felt able to continue with the deception for so long either shows a cavalier attitude to his wrongs being exposed or he was simply not too worried about the sanctions that would await him.

Maybe he was willing to run the risk of taking the cash and, if caught, would sit around for a couple of years counting it before coming back.

It would be a brave, or perhaps foolhardy, journeyman cricketer - as they are generally the ones targeted - who would risk their entire career for the sake of a few grand of dirty money.

And that is the crux of the matter. It is insignificant how small or great the offence is.

Serial match-fixing over a number of years or a couple of no balls on a quiet afternoon at Bristol. It does not matter.

It is a stain on the game and it has to be wiped clean.

The various Twenty20 tournaments around the globe are made almost irrelevant by claims of corruption and no sport should have that hanging over it.

There should be no forgiveness and there should be no way back.

Unless the deterrent is big enough there will always be those - albeit a miniscule minority - who will be willing to give it a go.

After all, what have they got to lose?