Eddie, HB, I'm happy to argue this with you because you are posters who's opinions and posts I always find balanced, well-made and fair - I admire the contributions you make to a variety of discussions (devil duck = genius). To use a famous quote, some others can make their own arrangements.
I completely agree with you about Warne and Waugh taking a step on a slippery slope. HB - I'll have to refresh my memory of it, and don't have the time this evening to do the reading, but my memory is that the bookies approached Waugh and Warne, not the other way around. Even listening to the bookie by W&W was an act of massive stupidity and they badly let themselves and the cricket world down.
The way that these ******* bookies operate is exactly what happened with Warne and Waugh - they initially make a contact, offer some generous hospitality (leather jackets etc) and get the players to provide some fairly innocous information they know the bookie could get elsewhere anyway - what's the harm they think. From there, once the bookie has got the player taking money for information, it is indeed a slippery slope to doing other more serious things.
BUT, saying that allowing yourself to get sucked in that far, before extricating yourself (even if that requires from your friends and the authorities) is the same thing as match fixing is quite unfair - particularly as match-fixing etc weren't the well known issues they are today. What they did wasn't actually illegal - no charges were laid, and unlike some others, they are free to travel to India whenever they like.
The distinction between what they did and matchfixing is a genuine one. Yes they both involved improper contact with bookies, and yes both actions were designed to allow bookies to improperly benefit from gambling on the results of the match. But providing info is a different kettle of fish because its not giving the bookies something they couldn't have got from another source anyway, and more significantly, because it didn't involve them trying to do anything when playing but win the game as best they could. Its the deliberate effort to distort results that I see as the most serious aspect of this kind of crime.
Now I accept that if they had not been pulled up at the time they were, this contact could have evolved into something like matchfixing. I accept the possibility, but I don't think its likely. From issues like this in other fields, the proportion of people who'll accept the initial bribe for harmless info compared to those who'll take the next step is actually quite small - most people still retain enough of a moral compass not to do so. Unfortunately the bookies only need a couple of takers. We can only speculate - some obviously believe they would have gone further, I don't - but I guess Cronje fans would have said the same. My point is to label someone as a cheat in this regard when they haven't actually done the deed is very unfair - it denies them the fairness of realising that from where they were to match-fixing, they would have had many many chances to opt out and stop.