How not to handle an inquiry
Idon’t know if cricket great Chris Cairns is guilty of match-fixing, as Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum have alleged. However, I do know the inquiries surrounding him have been ludicrously slow and extremely unfair on him.
To my surprise, he rang me when he came to Wellington to watch the Anzac Day AFL match and suggested we catch up one evening. We were joined by another international cricketer, Richard Petrie, who happened to pass by.
Cairns was in good form. He strongly professed he was innocent of any matchfixing charges and mentioned one or two cricket figures he intended pursuing legally when he was eventually cleared.
He said the match-fixing saga, and his subsequent isolation from the cricket community, had drained his financial resources.
I am accustomed to sports stars facing grave allegations – usually of being drugs cheats – vehemently professing their innocence.
Eventually many are proved guilty and confess, their previous lies apparently forgotten. Cyclist Lance Armstrong is a famous example, but there have been hundreds.
Cairns may be the latest of these deniers.
You wonder what people like McCullum and even admitted match-fixer Vincent have to gain by implicating him otherwise.
Regardless, the match-fixing inquiries, by the London Metropolitan Police and the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit, have been farcical.
The Met interviewed Cairns in New Zealand this year, but pulled the plug prematurely because the detectives had to return to England. That is simply amateurish.
Cairns flew there last week to finish the interview.
The anti-corruption unit, which evidently leaks like a sieve (fortunately, because without the media leaks it would have even less inclination to get on with things), seems overwhelmed by the magnitude of its task.
McCullum took nearly three years to report Cairns’ alleged match- fixing advances, and the anti-corruption unit has only this year – another three years on – spoken to some of McCullum’s team-mates about the incidents.
Some match-fixing charges have been laid against Vincent, many years after the fact, but is that only because the issue is now in the public domain?
When it was still secret, the inquiry was moving at the pace of an ant with a leg in plaster.
It’s not the way to conduct an inquiry. Cairns is certainly guilty in the court of public opinion – especially after all the leaks – but no charges have been made officially.
In passing, cricket officials are making idiots of themselves in this inquiry.
For example, why did New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White not allow McCullum to explain his lengthy wait in reporting Cairns’ match-fixing advances? And why did White then describe that three-year lag as a ‘‘small delay’’.
His inability to tell it straight follows his equally shoddy handling of the Ross Taylor captaincy debacle a couple of years ago.
Last week International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson explained there was little to worry about with the match- fixing claims, even though they involved matches in several countries.
In the great scheme of things only a tiny proportion of matches had been fixed, he said.
The point Richardson missed was that cricket followers don’t know which matches they’re watching are part of that ‘‘ tiny proportion’’. Therefore all come under suspicion.
Long wait: Chris Cairns, who is in limbo while officials inquiring into match-fixing allegations dither.