McCullum Grilled During Cairns Trial

Publish Date
Friday, 16 October 2015, 7:15AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Brendon McCullum was accused of tailoring his statements to cricket corruption investigators in order to avoid a potential ban for a failing to report the alleged spot fixing approaches from Chris Cairns for more than two years.

The New Zealand captain was giving evidence against his former "idol" and told the jury in the Southwark Crown Court that Cairns approached him twice in 2008 to become involved in spot fixing.

McCullum did not report the alleged approaches until 2011, a dealy which he regretted, but did not mention the names of Lou Vincent or Daryl Tuffey until March 2014.

In that third statement, which he repeated in court, McCullum said Cairns told him Vincent and Tuffey were also involved in spotfixing while playing for the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League.

The Queen's Counsel for Chris Cairns, Orlando Pownall, asked why McCullum did not name them in the first two statements.

"If you're telling the truth, how could you have forgotten those names?"

"I should have mentioned their names and I'm not sure why. That's clearly an error," said McCullum.

Daryl Tuffey then returned to the New Zealand team in 2009 and played in national colours for two more years.

"According to you, you had someone alleged to be a cheat in your midst and you did nothing?" asked Mr Pownall.

"Is that fair?"

McCullum agreed but said he never saw any evidence of Tuffey cheating while playing for New Zealand.

The QC then suggested that McCullum's accounts had changed over the years in order to suit the International Cricket Council, which had yet to decide on whether McCullum would face sanctions for the delay in reporting the alleged approach.

McCullum agreed his statements had changed as he remembered more information - but his central allegation that Chris Cairns had approached him remained the same.

During the cross-examination of McCullum, Mr Pownall said the cricketer was a popular worldwide figure who would do anything to "protect Brand McCullum" and his extensive business interests.

He suggested McCullum waited nearly three years to report the alleged approach because "you were unsure of what had happened" and reluctant for "Brand McCullum" to be involved.

Even when Lalit Modi was being sued by Cairns for defamation in 2010, Mr Pownall said McCullum did nothing.

"I was scared to come forward to say a guy I looked up to, idolized in my time in the New Zealand cricket team, had asked me to fix a match.

"I'm very certain about what happened on those two occasions Chris Cairns asked me to spot fix."

Mr Pownall said a player who failed to report a fixing approach can lead to a ban of between one and five years.

He suggested that McCullum sought assurances from the ICC that his statement would not be provided to the New Zealand Cricket board, or that he would not be punished for failing to report the alleged approach from Cairns.

McCullum could not recall asking for those assurances, but regretted not coming forward earlier.

He agreed that he had not stood before a disciplinary tribunal yet.

The Queen's Counsel also questioned why McCullum would agree to meet Cairns in the United Kingdom, if Cairns had indeed approached him in India to fix games.

"There should have been a deep loathing. But there wasn't because you weren't sure, were you?

McCullum said: "No [he was sure]".

"But you're committed [to your story] now, aren't you?" said Mr Pownall.

"There's no reason for me to be here other than to tell the truth. There's no benefit [to me]" replied McCullum.

Even following the two alleged approaches from Cairns, Mr Pownall said there were a number of social occasions where McCullum and Cairns spent time together.

These included a charity fundraising events and a game of golf with Mark Greatbatch, another former New Zealand cricket player.

"Did you feel uncomfortable playing golf with a cheat, someone who could have ruined your career?" asked Mr Pownall.

McCullum said it was "difficult to explain".

"That was the relationship a lot of people had with Chris. In a strange way, I thought that he was looking out for me," said McCullum.

"In hindsight, I shouldn't have been a part of this. Doesn't change the fact he asked me to spot fix on two occasions."

Earlier in the day, Brendon McCullum said he was "pretty shocked" when Chris Cairns offered him up to $US180,000 for each cricket game that he helped spot fix, a court has heard.

"I wish I said no straight away. I couldn't comprehend why Chris would put me in a position where he'd risk my future in the game," said McCullum.

Under questioning from Crown prosecutor Sasha Wass QC, McCullum said Cairns was one of New Zealand's greatest cricketers and an ambassador for the game.

"Growing up watching New Zealand cricket, Chris Cairns was very much a superstar of that team and certainly one of my idols."

McCullum and Cairns became friends, as did their families, growing up together in the "smallish" community of Christchurch.

Asked to describe their relationship, McCullum said: "A friend who I looked up."

Several days before the beginning of the Indian Premier League in 2008, McCullum said he was having a drink with Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting in a hotel bar.

Both were playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

McCullum said Cairns called him to say he was in Kolkata and had a "business proposal" for him.

They met alone in Cairns' hotel suite and shared a bottle of red wine, then ordered a curry.

There was a bit of small talk about the IPL tournament and then McCullum said Cairns asked if he knew anything about spot fixing.

"I said no. He said he would explain it to me."

McCullum said Cairns pulled out a piece of paper and pen to explain how spot fixing worked.

Ms Wass asked what McCullum thought Cairns was asking him to do.

He replied: "To underperform."

"I was shocked. I sort of thought he may have been joking. But it quickly became aware he wasn't joking...when he kept talking in quite a relaxed nature about it.

"He said all the big boys were doing it, that I was the sort of player and personality who would take it on. He said he couldn't ask Dan Vettori and Jake Oram, [they] didn't have the balls to do it."

McCullum said Cairns told him that Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey were "working for him".

He said Cairns offered between $US70,000 and $US180,000 to underperform in games.

The 34-year-old McCullum said he asked Cairns how to get the money back to New Zealand. Cairns told him they could buy property in Dubai, said McCullum.

Asked by Ms Wass why he asked about getting money to New Zealand, McCullum said he was "inquisitive" and wondered how it happened, if someone went through with it.
Asked why he didn't report Cairns to the cricket authorities, McCullum said he: "didn't want it to be true. I didn't want to rat on him."

McCullum said he told Cairns he "would think about it" and Cairns replied: "Remember this conversation never happened."

The next day, McCullum said Cairns called him to ask whether he had changed his mind.
"I said no."

McCullum then told the court about a second alleged approach from Cairns, this time in the United Kingdom.

This time, he was playing for the New Zealand cricket team which had a "warm up" match in Worcester.

McCullum said Cairns called him one morning and arranged to meet him.

Despite the earlier spotfixing approach, according to his evidence, McCullum said he was comfortable meeting again with Cairns.

"It sounds strange but I was okay with it. I just sort of hoped that the conversations we'd had...just didn't exist."

Cairns was not aggressive in the first alleged approach, said McCullum, so he was not concerned about what would happen if he again said no.

"He asked me again if I had changed my mind and I said no."

Asked why he did not report Cairns, McCullum said Cairns was "a hero" and he did not feel threatened.

"I felt I could deal with it without making it an issue. I guess I wasn't as understanding of the rules then as I am now. I definitely regret taking so long to report it."

What prompted his official report to the International Cricket Council in February 2011, was a presentation by anti-corruption officer John Rhodes who told players from the New Zealand team that they would be liable for failing to report fixing approaches.

McCullum said he exchanged looks with Daniel Vettori - with whom he had confided the alleged approach from Cairns - and then decided after the meeting that he should come forward.

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