Ex-Saltire Jean Symes banned in fixing scandal

Former Scottish Saltire Jean Symes has been handed a '¨even-year ban for his part in a match-fixing scandal.

Banned cricketer Thami Tsolekile in action for South Africa A against Australia A. Picture: Getty
Banned cricketer Thami Tsolekile in action for South Africa A against Australia A. Picture: Getty

Springbok Symes, whose career is effectively over, was found guilty along with three other players of breaching anti-corruption rules during South Africa’s Ram Slam T20 tournament last year.

The 29 year-old all-rounder, who starred as Scotland’s overseas player in 2012, failed to disclose to the anti-corruption unit a payment “which he knew or ought to have known was given to him to procure a breach of the Code.”

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A Cricket South Africa disciplinary probe also found that Symes “failed to disclose details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code; failed to disclose full details of matters evidencing a breach of the Code by another participant; and failed to co-operate with the investigators by knowingly providing false information.”

Symes said in a statement: “I deeply regret that, at the end of my career, a career that I have devoted to the sport of cricket, my clubs, teams and fellow players, I have conducted myself in a manner that amounts to a contravention of the ethical code of conduct of Cricket South Africa.

“In hindsight, I would have conducted myself differently. I regret any hurt or inconvenience that I have caused my team, my fellow players, my family and friends and specifically Cricket South Africa.”

Symes, who also helped Watsonians win the CS Eastern Premier during his stint in Scotland, played in eleven CB40 matches for the Saltires, scoring 294 runs with a highest score of 110 and claiming six wickets.

Cricket Scotland declined to comment.

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile was one of the three other players sanctioned. Tsolekile, 35, was banned for longest – 12 years for “contriving to fix a match or matches in the 2015 RAM SLAM”.

Tsolekile was captain of the Lions, for whom Symes played as an all-rounder, and one of the team’s seam bowlers, Pumelela Matshikwe was also banned for 10 years.

The Titans’ Ethy Mbhalati also received a 10-year ban with three years suspended.

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All admitted contraventions of the anti-corruption code following an investigation which eight months ago resulted in a 20-year ban for former South Africa, Lions and Titans batsman Gulam Bodi for “contriving or attempting to fix matches in the 2015 RAM SLAM T20 Challenge Series”.

A Cricket South Africa press release added: “Bodi acted as an intermediary for international betting syndicates, approaching certain players with a view to engaging in 
fixing activities.”

The four players were punished yesterday for a variety of offences – including “receiving a payment or incentive” to fix matches, failing to disclose payments, failing to disclose details relating to a third party and failing to co-operate with investigators.

Tsolekile, who won three Test caps 12 years ago, was also guilty of “obstructing or delaying the investigation by destroying evidence”.

CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat confirmed investigations continue but added no evidence has been discovered that any match was actually fixed.

“Any form of corruption in the game will be dealt with severely,” he said. “We will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the game. Corruption is a very serious matter and for this reason, we have devoted extensive time and resources to fully investigate every shred of evidence.

“We are still finalising certain aspects of the investigation. While there has been no evidence to suggest that an actual fix in any match was carried out, these players all participated in material discussions about match fixing.

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“In fact, they all went further and accepted, or agreed to accept in the future, sums of money which they knew or ought to have known was given to them to procure a breach of the code, or bring the game into disrepute.”