The International Cricket Council (ICC) said yesterday they had improved their procedures for handling evidence of match-fixing after coming under fire from Brendon McCullum.
The former New Zealand captain, delivering the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s on Monday, recalled his anger that the evidence he gave against his old international teammate Chris Cairns in a match-fixing court case in London last year was leaked prior to trial.
“How can the game’s governing body expect players to cooperate with it when it is then responsible for leaking confidential statements to the media?” McCullum, now playing for Lord’s-based Middlesex in English cricket’s domestic Twenty20 competition, asked.
The legal case ended with Cairns found not guilty and McCullum said he should have been given more warning from the outset of first giving evidence to the ICC in 2011 that he could be called as a witness in a court action.
“I think players deserve better from the ICC and that, in the future, the evidence gathering exercise has to be much more thorough, more professional. In my opinion a person taking a statement should ensure that the witness is advised about what may occur,” the Kiwi said.
Responding to McCullum’s address, the ICC acknowledged his stance but insisted they had not been the source of the leak.
“The ICC commended Brendon McCullum two years ago—and continues to do so today—for his brave, courageous and principled stand against corruption in cricket,” the global governing body said in a statement.
“The ICC also understood and shared his dismay at the leak of his confidential statement, which prompted a thorough and detailed investigation by the ICC.
While the probe proved that the origin of the leak was not from within the ICC, it failed to establish beyond doubt the actual source. Nevertheless, the ICC has already put strong measures in place to ensure this type of incident is never repeated.”
The statement added: “In 2014 (and unrelated to the leak of confidential information), a comprehensive review of the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit was carried out to review its processes, functions and resources. The review was conducted by the ICC’s Integrity Working Party (IWP), which included independent corruption experts.
“All the recommendations of the IWP were reviewed and adopted by the ICC Board during the 2015 ICC Annual Conference in Barbados. Every event or incident provides an organisation with opportunities to review its structures and measure its operations against best practice.
“This is exactly what the ICC has done in this particular case—it believes the outcome has been processes, procedures and resources which have been further bolstered and strengthened.
“The ICC reconfirms that it is doing absolutely everything in its power to fight the threat of corruption in the sport and will continue to do so. It also reaffirms its commitment to gain and retain the complete trust of cricketers, and to work in close co-operation with all stakeholders in cricket.”
The ICC were not the only cricket authority in McCullum’s sights. The hard-hitting batsman said Lou Vincent, another former New Zealand teammate, had been harshly treated in receiving a life ban from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after admitting to spot-fixing—deliberately under-peforming to stage a betting coup during a game—in county matches.
The ECB ban was applied worldwide and McCullum said: “I struggle with the severity of this when a player has cooperated fully and accepted responsibility. It is vital that players found guilty of offences having acknowledged wrongdoing are shown a degree of clemency—failing which there seems to be very little incentive for them to come forward.”
McCullum further said he stood by the evidence he gave against Cairns. Charges were brought against Cairns after he sued then Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi for libel in 2012 over a 2010 tweet in which the administrator accused him of match-fixing.
McCullum, as he had done in court, said “former hero” Cairns had approached him to fix matches—allegations Cairns denies.
“I think it is appropriate, standing here at ‘the Home of Cricket’ (Lord’s), to confirm that I stand by everything said in my statements and the evidence I gave at Southwark Crown Court,” McCullum, 34, said.
Players are told that failure to report an approach is almost as serious as any offence itself. McCullum added he did not report Cairns’s approach until 2011 because he felt “scared”, and was later taken back by the “very casual” manner in which his allegations were noted, but not recorded, by a member of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).
McCullum then made two more statements, another to the ACSU and to London’s Metropolitan Police. Recalling he was “hammered” by Cairns’ lawyer for making three statements, McCullum said someone at the ICC should have realised his evidence might one day be used in court. McCullum’s evidence was then leaked to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.
Vincent, who also gave evidence against Cairns, was banned from cricket for life in 2014. “Perhaps the worst part is that Lou is unable to go to a cricket ground anywhere in the world,” said McCullum. “He can never watch his children play at any level.”
McCullum led New Zealand to the final of last year’s World Cup and bowed out of international cricket by scoring the fastest-ever Test hundred, off just 54 balls, against Australia at Christchurch in February. He was also praised for the sporting way in which he captained New Zealand, with the team abandoning “sledging”—verbal abuse of opponents—under his leadership.
“In changing the way we approached the game, and respected the opposition, we wanted to be true to our national identity,” McCullum said. “In terms of that, New Zealanders identify with strong silent types.
“Perhaps our greatest hero is Sir Edmund Hilary, the first person to climb Mount Everest. He never spoke boastfully about his remarkable achievements. We wanted to be a team that people could be proud of; and if in doubt we wanted to play the game aggressively, not fear failure. I have been given too much credit for what we achieved... Everyone brought into it and lived it and breathed it.”
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