Wellington :New Zealand Cricket chairman Stuart Heal expressed relief Tuesday that the Chris Cairns match-fixing perjury trial was over, saying there were no winners in the “unpleasant and incredibly difficult” case.
A London court on Monday cleared Cairns of perjury and perverting the course of justice after a nine-week trial which included testimony from Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum that his ex-teammate had pitched a match-fixing proposal.
Regardless of the verdict, Heal said he was pleased New Zealand cricketers were prepared to speak out about the issue in court, saying his organisation was “in good spiritual and ethical health”.
“The fact (is) that a number of people who are affiliated to New Zealand Cricket and/or the game came forward during this case for the right reasons,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“Yes there will be some reputational damage, but I’m proud of the fact that people did come forward.”
Former New Zealand players who took the stand included Daniel Vettori, Andre Adams and Kyle Mills.
“This has been an unpleasant time for everyone—for the Cairns family, for the cricket family, for the witnesses— there are no winners,” Heal told the broadcaster.
Charges were brought against Cairns after he sued Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi for libel in 2012 over a 2010 tweet in which the administrator accused him of match-fixing.
The allegations against him resurfaced in December 2013 when the International Cricket Council confirmed it was investigating match-fixing claims involving three former New Zealand internationals.
Heal acknowledged Cairns as one of the all-time greats of New Zealand cricket but declined to answer directly when asked if the former national captain might one day be used as an ambassador for the game now he had been cleared.
“I heard him say that he would not be involved in cricket and I think that today is not the right day to have that conversation… but I’m an older man and I never say never,” he said.
McCullum has faced questions about why it took him three years to report alleged match-fixing approaches from Cairns, the first of which he claimed took place in India in 2008.
Heal said education about the dangers of match-fixing was not as comprehensive then as it was now.
“Brendon said in this case that he delayed reporting on the grounds he was reluctant to incriminate a friend,” he said.
“I can understand that… (but) since that time there’s been a number of updates in codes. Today’s players are exposed to much more education around the (anti-corruption) code and have a much better understanding of it.”