McKewen: Final delivery may be long time away

TREVOR MCKEWEN
Last updated 05:02 06/12/2013

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OPINION: The darkest day in New Zealand sport - or much ado about nothing?

It would be nice to say we will find out very shortly whether there is anything in the Chris Cairns-Lou Vincent-Daryl Tuffey match-fixing allegations or not.

But chances are we could be waiting for a very long time. And we might not find out anything at all.

We only need to look across the Tasman to see that these things are no longer simple matters.

When a grave-looking Federal Sports Minister, flanked by the equally grim-faced heads of cricket, NRL, AFL and soccer, revealed in February an Australian Crime Commission investigation into corruption across the Tasman, it was described widely in media as Australia's greatest sporting scandal.

Yet 10 months on, the claim is looking thin. The Essendon AFL franchise took a fair hit in a fine and disqualification from this year's finals series for use of dubious performance-enhancing peptides. The NRL side of allegations is yet to become clear and looks set to drag on into next year in interminable fashion.

The ICC (International Cricket Council) anti-corruption unit investigation into Cairns, Vincent and Tuffey has produced similar dark headlines here along with comment on whether New Zealand sport has a rotten core or not.

One thing the ICC investigators can get ready for - at least in the case of Cairns anyway - is a decent stoush.

This is not the first time this allegation has been made against him. Importantly, when it was made, by powerful Indian administrator Lalit Modi, it was emphatically rejected by one of the highest courts in the world, London's High Court.

Modi, considered the "godfather of Indian cricket", was royally beaten up by the judge who said his allegations couldn't be proved. That alone should be a warning to the ICC powerbrokers, if in fact, the events of the 2008 Indian Cricket League (ICL) are what they are investigating.

It was a tweet Modi made around that competition that cost him more than a million dollars in damages and legal fees when Cairns successfully took him to the High Court.

Cairns, who retired as a player in 2008, last night said he had nothing to hide and was defiant in saying he had already been "vindicated" over the ICL allegations.

If claims that the ICC cannot investigate the ICL are correct, then it would seem the current investigation does not relate to the 2008 allegations made by Modi.

And it would seem strange for the ICC to be investigating something that happened five years ago involving a player or players who long ago retired and that the most powerful Indian cricket figure of the time was unable to prove anything against.

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However, the fact Vincent and Tuffey played under Cairns in that league may suggest some form of link. In the absence of any comment from the ICC, that seems a reasonable conclusion.

Very murky indeed and something yet to be explained.

It also should be pointed out that - unlike events across the Tasman where everything was paraded - the ICC did not reveal the investigation itself and has been reluctant to comment despite confirming it.

This could be because not all of its investigations bear fruit.

For example, the same unit looking at the Kiwi trio are investigating an ODI played between Pakistan and the West Indies last July where the Windies tied the game by scoring 24 runs off the last two overs.

Yet four months since that announcement there has been scant further detail. The investigation is apparently ongoing with no comment from the ICC during that time.

In the meantime, Cairns, Vincent and Tuffey are being tried in the court of public opinion and social media. They will be acutely aware of the timeless saying about: "fling enough mud ... "

After an eventful last 24 hours, it would do us all a service if the ICC revealed exactly what matches and behaviour it is investigating.

It is only when all the evidence is disclosed and tested that Kiwi sport fans can really judge those involved.

And just how dark New Zealand sport may really have become.

- Fairfax Media

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