... but will others now be afraid to speak up?
CHRIS CAIRNS’S delight at his acquittal will not necessarily be shared by everyone in cricket. That is not to doubt the verdict of the jury. It is simply to reflect the fact that the ICC’s anti-corruption unit — not to mention the Crown Prosecution Service — believed they had a strong case against him. That case now lies in ruins. The worry for a sport whose integrity remains up for grabs, even after Cairns’s not-guilty verdict, is whether whistleblowers such as Brendon McCullum will feel emboldened in future to testify against team-mates. There should be no questioning McCullum’s integrity, despite the fact his evidence at Southwark Crown Court was not enough to persuade the jury to find Cairns guilty. But the fact remains that it was not enough. Through no fault of his own, McCullum will have to live with that. How many cricketers will look at the events of the past eight weeks and decide that a grilling at the hands of a skilful QC is simply not worth the trouble? There are other concerns. The jury cannot have been impressed by the fact that McCullum was interviewed three times — twice by the ACU, once by police — adding details on each occasion to a statement which defence lawyers could then argue was inconsistent. Neither did it say much for the ICC that McCullum’s first statement, made in February 2011, was not made available for the libel trial brought by Cairns against Lalit Modi a year later. The ICC say they were not asked to present any evidence. That is not good enough. Once again, we have been left with the sense of a sport that still has much to do if it is to convince the court of public opinion.