What’s the story?
Proteas lanky left-arm pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe was provisionally suspended by Cricket South Africa (CSA) after levying charges against the 33-year-old for breaching its Anti-Corruption Code for Personnel ("the Code").
Investigations carried out by CSA’s Anti-Corruption Unit on Tsotsobe’s alleged involvement in match-fixing during the 2015 Ram Slam T20 league have now revealed that the fast bowler was involved in an attempt to fix matches or influence them as well as fail to disclose the matter to the concerned authorities in time.
He has been suspended under Article 4.7 of the Code, which prevents him from playing, coaching or being involved in any other capacity in matches conducted by the CSA, ICC or any other ICC member.
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The 2015 Ram Slam T20 competition has been highly infamous with Tsotsobe becoming the latest cricketer to be charged following the likes of Gulam Bodi, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati, Thami Tsolekile and Alviro Petersen facing lengthy bans from the sport for offences under the Code.
Investigations have been going on against Tsotsobe since October 2015 with the bowler himself admitting that he was under the cloud over a year ago. There were even reports that he could be facing jail time for not paying the legal fees as is required by the players under suspicion.
Though he denied any wrongdoing at any point of time during the investigation period, CSA has found enough evidence to charge Tsotsobe under the Code.
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The heart of the matter
Tsotsobe’s suspension is the latest in a number of incidents that has hampered ICC’s drive to eradicate corruption from the sport. The lead up to the Ram Slam T20 competition saw an unprecedented level of wrong-doing which has led to six players being banned from the sport for varying periods of time.
While former South African international Gulam Bodi has been the most severely punished with a 20-year suspension coming his way, another prominent former international in Alvaro Peterson was banned for two years.
Tsotsobe, who has not played any cricket since being hit with the allegations, all of which he had denied, has now joined the infamous list of players who brought disrepute to the game with their attempts to influence the outcome of matches.
He has also been charged with accepting or seeking to accept a bribe in order to underperform during the competition as well as failing to disclose any attempts to do so when called upon to explain his actions in the lead-up to the tournament.
With Tsotsobe being provisionally suspended from the sport, for the time being, CSA will now weigh upon the quantum of punishment to be handed to the 33-year-old who made a brilliant start to his ODI career picking up 4 wickets in a 39-run victory against Australia in 2009.
One thing is for certain though; At 33, Tsotsobe’s career in cricket, at least as a player, seems to have come to an end.
It is always a matter of great shame when a tournament is talked about more for off-field issues rather than the action on the field. Unfortunately, that has been the case with the 2015 Ram Slam T20 that has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
There is no place for any kind of corruption in the sport and let’s hope that the strictest possible action is taken against Tsotsobe for his involvement in match-fixing so that it serves as a reminder to the upcoming cricketers that there is no space for such actions in the game.