Embattled former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns last night took immediate leave from his Sky Television commentary position after reports he was one of three former players being investigated by the ICC on suspicion of alleged match-fixing.
Cairns, who started the day in Dunedin where he was in the commentary box for New Zealand's test against the West Indies, left University Oval not long after his name was linked to the scandal and is understand to have returned to Auckland to be with his family.
Fellow former New Zealand internationals Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey are also reportedly being investigated.
Sky's corporate communications spokeswomen Kristy Way confirmed Cairns' absence from the commentary box in the afternoon was due to the ongoing ICC investigation.
"Once we saw his name published, Chris asked Sky if he could leave the test match and come back to Auckland to be with his family," Way said. "We were fine with that. He wasn't made to leave. It was his choice."
Cairns will not return to Dunedin for the fourth day's play today.
"That's very unlikely," Way said. "We're waiting for the ICC report to come out. He's come back to Auckland. He certainly won't be back tomorrow. We'll be talking to Chris while he's in Auckland.
"As you can imagine he wants to be with his family after this news today."
Way was also unsure whether Cairns would resume his commentary duties this summer.
"It's too early to talk about that," she said. "We'll just take it one day at a time. It's been news to us all. We need more information before we make a call on that."
Earlier in the day, Sky denied gagging its commentary team, which includes former New Zealand internationals Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Cairns, Craig McMillan, Craig Cumming, Mark Richardson and former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, from discussing the bombshell, despite several of them making comments on radio.
Despite the explosive story making headlines around the world, nobody in the commentary box mentioned it during the third day's play in Dunedin.
"No, I'm not aware we have given anyone a directive of that sort," Way said when asked if the commentary team had been told not to discuss the subject. "It would be speculation and could be difficult territory if they attempt to do so.
"It's not a news show so it's not a format for us to discuss current affairs or speculate.
"We've read the story. There's a lot of detail missing. It's just not the format to bring it up. We've done it in the past where there's been issues with cricket. We just focus on the match. A news or current affairs show is more the place for that discussion."
Star commentator and former international Doull refused to comment when contacted by Fairfax last night and said any questions should be directed to Sky's communications staff.
Way, meanwhile, also denied Sky approached New Zealand Cricket to check if any member of the commentary team should not be on air after the news of the scandal initially broke.
"I'm not aware of that," she said.
Sky has previously been criticised for choosing not to acknowledge the captaincy fallout surrounding Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum.
"There's been topical news stories before and we haven't addressed them," Way said. "It's just not appropriate. Our job is to bring an entertaining game to cricket fans."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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