Wellington – New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said he had no regrets about his leaked evidence to a corruption probe, as cricket chiefs moved to muzzle the media and stop any more “unhelpful” revelations.
McCullum said he stood by his testimony to the International Cricket Council (ICC), in which he reportedly told investigators that a high-profile cricketer dubbed “Player X” unsuccessfully attempted to recruit him in a match-fixing scam in 2008.
The batsman said he was shocked when his allegations appeared in a British newspaper this week, detailing a scandal that threatens to overshadow New Zealand's preparations to co-host next year's Cricket World Cup with Australia.
While ICC president Alan Isaac described the leak as “totally unacceptable”, McCullum said he maintained confidence in the governing body and would continue to cooperate.
“There's still a long way to go I think,” he told reporters in Christchurch. “Obviously it's been a number of years and the next little while will probably be quite tough as well, but my involvement in the investigation is ongoing.”
McCullum declined to comment when asked if Black Caps great Chris Cairns was Player X. Cairns this week acknowledged his name was being linked to Player X but strongly denied any involvement in corruption or match-fixing.
Despite his disappointment at the leak in Britain's Daily Mail, McCullum said he would not hesitate to recommend to any player who found themselves in the same situation to report the matter to the ICC.
“From the dealings I've had with the (ICC) group I've dealt with, I have confidence in them,” he said.
The ICC has launched an urgent investigation into the leak of testimony from McCullum, former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent and Vincent's ex-wife Eleanor Riley.
Isaac said the ICC had also commenced action in the British courts to try to stop further publication of evidence from the long-running investigation.
“We've taken steps to injunct the media to try and stop them releasing any information that they have,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“We're really just trying to stop them on the grounds, I guess, that it's unhelpful.”
Isaac apologised to McCullum and stressed there was no suggestion he was under investigation.
Reports first emerged in December that Cairns, Vincent and another New Zealander Daryl Tuffey had been linked to a match-fixing probe and the recently leaked evidence fleshes out the allegations.
The match-fixing reportedly involves games in at least five countries from 2008-2012.
McCullum said he was offered up to £107,000 (US$180,000) a match to underperform, with Riley giving a dramatic description of driving to Birmingham in Britain with her then-husband to collect match-fixing cash stuffed into a rucksack.
“I just sat in the car and put the hoodie over my head because I was so worried and scared,” she said in testimony obtained by TVNZ.
Cairns and Tuffey both deny any wrongdoing while Vincent has reportedly admitted to fixing and agreed to give evidence in the hope of avoiding prosecution.
New Zealand batting legend Martin Crowe criticised the length of time it was taking the ICC to investigate claims dating back to 2008 and said the probe must be wrapped up before next year's World Cup.
“I can't imagine a World Cup returning to these shores with these sorts of problems lingering,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“They've got to be shut down quickly to allow us to prepare for the event of a lifetime.”
Isaac refused to guarantee the complex investigation would be finished in time for the tournament but denied it would cast a pall over the event, saying corruption was more of a spectre in domestic T20 games than international matches.
“I think the public can be very confident in how the (World Cup) matches will be played,” he said.
“We don't believe there have been too many problems at the international level for some time. The real risk and the allegations tend to involve domestic leagues.” – Sapa-AFP