NZ Cricket in dark as top players questioned

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014
Chris Cairns
Getty Images
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Chris Cairns has strongly denied any involvement in match-fixing.

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New Zealand Cricket has been left in the dark as the international match-fixing saga engulfs some of its biggest names.

After Chris Cairns on Friday outed former Blacks Caps skippers Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori and current fast bowler Kyle Mills as having also been interviewed by the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) earlier this year in support of current captain Brendon McCullum's allegations against him, NZC has admitted it was not aware the trio had been drawn into the investigation.

Despite the saga now sweeping up Cairns, Lou Vincent, former fast bowler Darryl Tuffey, McCullum, two other ex-national captains in Fleming and Vettori and Mills, NZC chief executive David White revealed he still had not been given any investigation details.

White said he found out only late last year that McCullum had made match-fixing allegations against Cairns to the ICC back in 2011, three years after it allegedly happened, and that he had not known about Fleming, Vettori and Mills providing interviews to ICC anti-corruption investigators this year.

Those admissions came as the ICC yesterday failed to respond to a defiant Cairns who has challenged the timeline of events in the saga where he is a key figure alongside Vincent in leaked allegations from the world body's investigation.

Before flying out of Auckland yesterday for an ICC meeting in India, White agreed to be interviewed by Fairfax Media but offered restricted comment on the match-fixing allegations despite New Zealand's global embarrassment in being at the centre of one of the biggest scandals to engulf the game.

"We haven't been party to any of the evidence but we were aware well before Christmas [2013] that a number of allegations were raised," White said. "I can't really comment any more than that."

White's comments come as a defiant Cairns, back from being interviewed by London Metropolitan Police and the ACSU, zeroes in on murky timelines around the alleged evidence against him.

Cairns had full disclosure of the accusations made against him by Vincent, Vincent's ex-wife Elly Riley and McCullum, along with the statements of Fleming, Vettori and Mills where two of the three allegedly claim McCullum told them of the Cairns approach.

Rather than seeming chastened by what he read and what might lie ahead if match-fixing or perjury charges are laid against him, he went on the offensive upon his return to Auckland, outing Fleming, Vettori and Mills as having given interviews to ICC investigators, accusing Vincent of "betrayal" and drawing attention to McCullum's apparent failure to report the approach when it allegedly happened in 2008.

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In his statement on Friday, Cairns asked why McCullum, in contravention of ICC rules, had taken three years to report the claimed approach.

McCullum was asked that directly by reporters 10 days ago at a Christchurch press conference with White and New Zealand Cricket Players Association boss Heath Mills - the brother of Kyle Mills - and was poised to answer before White cut him off, saying the ICC was happy with McCullum's conduct.

White said yesterday that prior to the press conference he had made an agreement with McCullum over how that line of questioning would be handled. He could not explain why McCullum had changed his mind and offered to answer the question - a response still to be publicly delivered.

During the interjection, White described the gap between the alleged events of 2008 and 2011 as a "small delay". Cairns' public statement at Auckland Airport said White's description was "misleading".

"Mr McCullum first made his allegations to the ICC's ACSU on 17 February, 2011. Not only was this nearly three years after the alleged approach, but importantly it is 13 months before the trial, in March 2012, of my case in the London High Court against Lalit Modi about match-fixing," Cairns said.

"At that trial, every allegation that I was match-fixing was shown to be false. It is extraordinary that Mr McCullum told the ACSU in February 2011 that three years previously I approached him to match-fix, yet neither he nor the ACSU anti-corruption officer that took his statement, Mr John Rhodes, took that information to the ICC or informed Mr Modi or anyone else of this startling revelation."

Yesterday White refused to say whether he still stands by the "small delay" claim he made 10 days ago.

"I can't comment on that," he said.

The ICC also failed to respond to Cairns' challenge that if it had McCullum's sworn testimony accusing him of match-fixing in 2011, why had the organisation failed to provided it to Modi or the High Court for a case that happened the following year.

Despite being available to New Zealand media last weekend and predicting a swift end to the match-fixing saga shortly, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson did not respond to Fairfax Media inquiries.

- Sunday News

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