'Names close' as Chris Cairns departs to the UK

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns.
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns.

The International Cricket Council says it is close to revealing the names of match-fixing culprits and full details of the explosive saga.

The news of a looming climax to the year-plus investigation came on the same day Chris Cairns flew out of Auckland airport to be interviewed by London Metropolitan Police and the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

In further developments yesterday:

- The Australian Cricket Board joined its England and Wales counterpart in laying charges against Lou Vincent.

- Vincent's camp claimed the growing charges prove he is not seeking plea bargain.

- New Zealand Cricket confirmed a spectator at a New Zealand-England international in Hamilton was ejected from Seddon Park on suspicion of aiding illegal offshore-based gamblers.

- NZC intends to bolster anti-corruption measures at domestic matches.

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson revealed the match-fixing investigation was at "an advanced stage".

"We should be making announcements pretty soon," he told Radio Sport yesterday. "It (the investigation) is close to being finalised and I'm sure Chris Cairns will be spoken to and given an opportunity to put his side of the story."

Cairns flew out of Auckland in the early afternoon yesterday after receiving a written assurance he will not be detained in London after agreeing to be interviewed by London Metropolitan Police and then the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

During the flight, he tweeted: "To NZ media. I respect and understand your job to report news, that is your job. But please respect and understand my wife and children's privacy. Please cease ringing the door bell at our private residence. Thank you."

Richardson claimed that ICC investigators had discovered match-fixing was not widespread.

"I'm actually quite heartened that it's limited to these players, past players, that have retired, past historical matches, no international matches," he said. "We don't like any matches to be corrupt but the number of matches involved here is relatively small compared to the vast number of matches that are played around the world."

He also again defended Brendon McCullum against criticism that the Black Caps captain took too long to report claims of corruption, allegedly against Cairns, breaching ICC regulations in doing so. However, he would not elaborate about the timeline and McCullum's actions after he was allegedly first approached in 2008 to being first interviewed by ICC investigators in 2011.

"People have to be aware that it's not as easy as people might imagine to simply report something at the first instance," he told the radio station. "These are your friends you're talking about, your team mates, you're not going to just go and report someone, ruin his career, when there's nothing substantial to back up these rumours.

"He [McCullum] may have delayed a little while coming forward, but absolutely, that's not held against him."

The Australian Cricket Board intends to lay charges against Vincent after leaked ICC documents of Vincent's confession revealed they include the 2012 Champions League T20 tournament in South Africa while playing for the Auckland Aces. The tournament is jointly owned by India, Australia and South Africa. The charges are expected to be issued next month.

That development came as England's Daily Mail newspaper reported that Vincent's former Sussex teammate Naved Arif, also charged with fixing English county matches, approached the former Black Cap to help him carry out match-fixing in the two matches identified by investigators. The newspaper alleged Arif had persuaded Vincent to take part in the fix three days earlier and that the pair met a bookie called "NG" at a Brighton hotel where the Kiwi agreed to co-operate.

To collect a 40,000 pounds cheque for helping throw the game, the paper said Vincent had to supply the serial code of a 20 pound note to another bookie, known as "VG", who then met him near Heathrow Airport. Vincent confirmed his identity by handing over the 20 pound note and undergoing a voice recognition test.

Meanwhile, NZC has confirmed a spectator was thrown out of a 2013 one-day international in Hamilton on suspicion of "courtsiding". Police told the man to leave Seddon Park after he was approached by an ICC anti-corruption officer on suspicion of "courtsiding", a practice where spectators pass information on via a mobile phone to somebody overseas involved in illegal betting.

NZC confirmed it had been made aware of the incident and revealed it was committed to tightening security around domestic games while leaving international games in the hands of the ICC.

"We are looking very closely at bolstering up the resources around the controls for the domestic games to make sure they are on par with the international games," NZC chief executive David White said.

Sunday Star Times