Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns approached current skipper Brendon McCullum with a “business proposition” about match-fixing, McCullum told a London court on Thursday. McCullum, 34, told Cairns’ perjury trial that Cairns made the approach in a hotel in Kolkata, India in April 2008, explaining to him that other players “did not have the balls to do it”.
McCullum said he was “shocked” by the approach and was contacted by Cairns regarding the matter a further two times that year before eventually reporting him to the cricket authorities in February 2011.
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Former all-rounder Cairns, one of New Zealand’s greatest ever players, denies one charge of perjury and one charge of perverting the court of justice. Wicket-keeper batsman McCullum was playing alongside Australia’s Ricky Ponting for KKR in the IPL at the time of Cairns’ alleged approach.
He told Southwark Crown Court that over a bottle of red wine and a curry in Cairns’ hotel room, Cairns had asked him if he knew “anything about spot-fixing in cricket”.
McCullum said that Cairns had used a piece of paper to illustrate how spot-fixing worked, involving the manipulation of runs scored in a match, but not the result. According to McCullum, Cairns gave a “quite thorough” description of the practice, breaking down different periods of the game and noting when the match could be influenced.
Asked by prosecutor Sasha Wass QC if it was a “legitimate” way to play cricket, McCullum said: “No, it was not an honest game of cricket.” He added: “I was shocked. I sort of thought he may have been joking, but I quickly became aware that he was not joking. He said that everybody is doing it, all the big boys are doing it. Will you take it on?”
McCullum said that then-New Zealand internationals Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram were both mentioned, but Cairns said “they did not have the balls to do it”.
He also said that “Asian names” had been discussed and that Cairns had told him that each incidence of spot-fixing could be worth “between $70,000 and $200,000”.
McCullum said that Cairns had masked his income from spot-fixing by using it to buy property. The second approach from Cairns came in what McCullum described as a “pretty brief” telephone call, with the third approach coming while the men ate breakfast together in June 2008.
After the second approach, McCullum said that Cairns had told him: “Remember, this conversation never happened.”
While McCullum admitted that he had not said no straight away after the initial approach, he eventually went to the anti-corruption authorities with information about Cairns in 2011. “Chris was a hero,” he said. “I did not feel threatened by his approaches.”
On Approach 1
I was having a drink with Ricky Ponting when I had a phone call from Chris Cairns. He said he had a business proposition for me. He sent a car for me and gave me his room number. We had a bottle of wine and then ordered a curry from room service. He asked me if I knew anything about spot-fixing… He pulled out a paper and pen and started to go through periods of the game with diagrams. His drawings were quite thorough. I was shocked. I sort of thought he may have been joking but was quickly aware he wasn’t joking. He said he couldn’t ask Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram because they wouldn’t have the balls to do it.
On laundering money
He said he hadn’t done it in international cricket. I wish I had said no straight away but I couldn’t comprehend that Chris would put me in a position where he would risk my future in the game. I asked him how you would get the money back into New Zealand. He said you go and buy property in Dubai and leave it there a couple of years.
On not reporting approach
I didn’t want it to be true. He was someone I still considered a friend. I didn’t want to rat on him, for want of a better term.
On Approach 2
After I arrived in Worcester I got a call from Chris saying he was in Worcester. He rang me in the morning and asked if we could grab breakfast. He asked me again if I had changed my mind, I said no. I remember being in a bar in Mohali… Lou came down and said a guy turned up to offer him a bat sponsorship, and that there had been a naked woman in the room. I told him to tell the guy to get lost.