How not to han­dle an in­quiry

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

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.

Photo: GETTY

Long wait: Chris Cairns, who is in limbo while of­fi­cials inquiring into match-fix­ing al­le­ga­tions dither.

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