Last October, in a windowless court room in a cul-de-sac from the Thames in London, with Chris Cairns looking out from a rectangular glass dock, Brendon McCullum spoke about his fears in dealing with the fact that his hero was a tainted man. Why had he waited three years to report the alleged approach from Cairns to fix up games in IPL? “I was scared to come forward to say a guy I looked up to, idolised in my time in the New Zealand cricket team, had asked me to fix a match.” The initial confusion and fear, the subsequent internal processing, and moral courage required to come out for a player can only be guessed.
Now, we hear that, in 2011 even when McCullum eventually steeled himself to open up to John Rhodes, a member of the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit, he was told the conversation — which was not even recorded — would “probably end up at the bottom of the file with nothing eventuating”. This apathetic nature of gathering evidence, euphemistically termed “casual” by McCullum in his MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture on June 6, explains much of the muck that the ICC have let accumulate. If this is the manner players such as McCullum were treated, then where is the hope for more vulnerable players — who we are told are the targets of bookies — gaining confidence in the system to report on suspicious approaches? If evidence gathering was so flimsy, what purpose do investigations serve?
“I was not asked to elaborate on anything I said and I signed a statement that was essentially nothing more than a skeleton outline,” McCullum said. The ICC’s pithy and dry response to McCullum’s speech doesn’t inspire confidence. They claimed to have overhauled the anti-corruption unit (ACU) last year. For years, they didn’t even record reporting properly. Does one really need an overhaul to do the basics? In the past, ACU officials have spoken of their angst about how not many players speak out. Now we know it’s a surprise that even a few spoke to them.