Justice delayed is justice denied in cricket fiasco

RICHARD SWAINSON
Last updated 12:09 07/06/2014

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OPINION: You have to admire Chris Cairns. Accused twice over of match fixing by former team-mates Lou Vincent and Brendan McCullum, Cairns flew to London and back again in what would appear to be a vain attempt to clear his name and reputation.

A sceptical media and wider public have all but branded Cairns a cheat in light of information supplied by Vincent and Vincent's former wife and McCullum's leaked testimony before the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption and security unit.

Photographs of Cairns and Vincent three sheets to the wind, downing shots with some anonymous blondes in a bar, suggest a couple in cahoots, perhaps toasting their latest Machiavellian scheme to undermine the gentleman's game.

At the very least these images confirm a certain cosiness between New Zealand's great all-rounder and the country's first confessed match fixer.

Cairns' press conference at Auckland airport saw him standing tall and firing a few shots back at his accusers.

If this was an act of mere bravado, a delaying tactic made possible by the criminally slow pace of the ACSU, it was nonetheless an impressive one.

Personally, I would like to believe him. In terms of talent and performance his career achievements far exceed those who have been throwing the mud.

I have fond memories of how Cairns completely destroyed the West Indian batting lineup at Seddon Park in the final weeks of last century.

His 7 for 27, including the prize wickets of Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, are still the best test bowling figures on the ground. Let's hope the West Indians were not themselves on the take that day: it would retrospectively spoil a cherished sport watching experience shared with my late father.

To take Cairns' arguments at face value is not just to play devil's advocate. Whether he is ultimately found to be guilty of something - and no charges, criminal or cricketing, have yet been laid - his pre-emptive strikes against his accusers do beg questions.

How long did Brendan McCullum wait before coming forward with his allegations against Cairns?

This matter could have been cleared up when the New Zealand captain himself fronted a press conference after briefly returning from the Indian IPL to attend the birth of his third child.

However, a combination of stage-management and journalistic reticence meant the right questions were neither levelled nor answered.

Our fearless press elected to ask about the gender of the baby rather than put McCullum on the spot. No one in the room thought to query why Brendan remained silent during Cairns' libel case against Lalit Modi. If he did so on the advice of the ACSU, what does that say about the ICC's watch dog and higher ideals of justice? To stand silent, withholding information relevant to a formal trial, surely makes a mockery of the British legal system.

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When it comes to the pedestrian, amateur hour antics of the ACSU it is very much a case of justice delayed being justice denied.

The events described by Vincent and McCullum allegedly took place in 2008, six years ago. Cairns claimed at his Auckland airport presentation that McCullum waited until February of 2011 - three years later - before giving evidence to the ICC. Another three years have elapsed since.

What has the ACSU been doing in the meantime? Certainly not interrogating those they suspect of doing something wrong.

Cairns and Daryl Tuffey, another former international supposedly under a cloud, have been bending over backwards to give their side of the story.

It is tempting to think that the process of investigation is itself fixed.

The ICC is a politicised beast that has in recent times been more consumed with its own managerial structure than in policing the game of cricket.

What do a few side bets by some has-been players mean next to the power grab of India, England and Australia?

Appointing a Northern Irish policeman to head the ACSU was an interesting decision.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan has attempted to defend his organisation, claiming that their match fixing inquiry is "coming to a close" but refusing to give a definite date.

According to independent ombudsman reports, Flanagan's time as the Home Office Chief Inspector of Constabulary was marked by collusion between Northern Irish police and the protestant paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

His role in the RUC investigation of the Omagh bombing was also severely criticised.

The track record does not inspire confidence.

- Manawatu Standard

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