Chris Wood issued suspended cricket ban over historic gambling charges

Hampshire County Cricket Club seam bowler Chris Wood has been handed a two-month suspended ban for placing wagers on nine cricket matches between 2011 and 2016.

The 30-year-old has opened up about his gambling addiction in the past and explained that he now attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings, having placed his last bet over two years ago. He admitted to placing two bets on matches in 2011 and a further seven in 2016.

Wood has released a joint statement with the Professional Cricketers’ Association, profusely apologising for his ‘mistakes’ during that time period.

“I want to apologise for the mistakes I made in 2011 and 2016, it is something I deeply regret,” Wood said. “While I played no part in any of the games that I placed bets on, I totally understand the rules that I am not permitted to bet on cricket, under any circumstance. 

“The code of conduct is very clear and the education provided from the PCA and ECB does a great job in protecting the integrity of the game.

“My gambling addiction had complete control over my life to the extent I would do something I never thought I would in placing a bet on a game of cricket. I had no regard to the consequences of my actions. I want to add I had no direct involvement in any game or did I try and influence the outcome of any match.”

In November, Wood linked up with gambling-harm minimisation consultancy EPIC Risk Management as a Pro-Sport Facilitator, sharing his story in a bid to help others, after seeking help from ex-footballer Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance charity.

He continued: “Over the past two years through the support of the PCA, Professional Cricketers’ Trust and Sporting Chance I have turned my life around and I have not gambled for over two years. I revealed this disease I am battling earlier this year with the aim to help others, not just in cricket but in any sport or walk of life and I hope my journey can help others reach out for support.

“I recently started working with EPIC Risk Management which is the next stage of my recovery to provide a real life example to young people on the dangers of gambling and I hope this is something that will make a difference so people do not face the same challenges I have done earlier in my life.”

Wood, who signed a new white-ball contract at the beginning of December with the county, was not involved in any of the matches he placed bets on and the wagers did not affect, or have the potential to affect, any of the results.

He admitted to the charges and co-operated with the England and Wales Cricket Board‘s (ECB) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation when contacted, which was taken into account when issuing the sanction.

PCA Director of Development and Welfare, Ian Thomas, added: “The integrity of professional cricket is vital for everyone within the game and today’s outcome shows how seriously this is taken.

“Any breach of the anti-corruption code needs to be investigated with appropriate sanctions for perpetrators and the PCA has been involved in the process. 

“The PCA has been continually working with Chris on his gambling addiction and while Chris and the PCA are extremely disappointed in these indiscretions, we hope this can provide a reminder that professional cricketers are forbidden to bet on any aspect of cricket, for any amount of money. 

“The charge relates to historical bets when Chris’ gambling disease was at its height and we are thankful for the ECB understanding the mitigating factors in his individual situation.”

The ECB assured fellow cricketers that they do not want the news ‘to stop players coming forward and reaching out for support’. It reaffirmed that PCA members will ‘receive no judgement from any issue they face’, with guidance and support available.