Matchfixing claims 'absurd, bizarre, scary', says Cairns

WELLINGTON Fri May 30, 2014 8:54am IST

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns gives a news conference on day four of the first international test cricket match against New Zealand, at Eden Park in Auckland, February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Marple/Files

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns gives a news conference on day four of the first international test cricket match against New Zealand, at Eden Park in Auckland, February 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Marple/Files

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns reiterated on Friday he was innocent of any involvement in matchfixing and described the accusations against him as "absurd, bizarre and scary".

Cairns read out a statement at Auckland airport after returning from London, where he was interviewed at his own request by London police, English cricketing authorities and the anti-corruption unit of cricket's world governing body, the ICC.

"I have never match-fixed, sought to have others match-fix, or otherwise play the game of cricket in anything other than the spirit it so richly deserves to be played in," he said.

"Knowing what I now know of these allegations against me, I find the situation truly absurd, bizarre and scary.

"I now wait to see what happens next. Whatever happens, I am hopeful that proper process will be followed and that I will be cleared of these allegations."

The 43-year-old said former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent, who has admitted corruption and is assisting the ICC probe, had "betrayed" his friendship and the allegations he and his ex-wife had made against Cairns were "despicable lies".

He also hit out at New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, saying it was "misleading" to say he had reported an alleged approach by Cairns about matchfixing in a "timely fashion" given he made the allegation in 2011, three years after it was supposed to have taken place.

McCullum's evidence to the ICC's Anti-Corruption Security Unit (ACSU), where he described being twice approached by a "Player X", was leaked to a British newspaper earlier this month.

Cairns later said he thought he was "Player X" but completely denied the allegations.

The ICC has said that McCullum is not under investigation for matchfixing and has commended his conduct in coming forward to give the evidence.

Cairns also said none of the three cricketers who were allegedly told by McCullum of the approach - Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills - had made "a direct accusation" against him.

The involvement of London police results from a 2012 libel trial in the British High Court, when Cairns won damages from Indian cricket administrator Lalit Modi over accusations of corruption.

Cairns said that after his London trip he was confident there were no allegations that he had "received any monies for my alleged activities, nor paid any monies to any person".

"Over the last few years I have felt the influence of nameless, faceless people casting aspersions about me through the world of cricket and perhaps beyond," he added.

"I have a small team of people in my corner who have believed in me throughout and are helping me now.

"I have said that there are dark forces at play here. The just concluded trip to England has not persuaded me to think any differently."

(Writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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