Shocked and confused! Brendon McCullum reveals approach by his 'hero' to fix matches
More disturbing details have emerged on the fixing approach to New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, after the renowned expert on sports betting, Ed Hawkins, revealed parts of McCullum’s testimony to ICC in a DailyMail report.
McCullum is currently playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League and during yesterday’s match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, said that he’d be travelling home this week for the birth of his third child.
According to Hawkins, McCullum was approached by his ‘hero’ (a former star cricketer) who offered him up to $180,000 to under-perform. McCullum was approached twice in 2008 by this cricketer – once prior to the start of the inaugural Indian Premier League, and then in a Worcester cafe during New Zealand’s tour to England the same year.
Earlier reports suggested that McCullum had turned down this ‘offer’, and Hawkins’s revelations now put further light on this matter. In McCullum’s testimony to ICC’s anti-corruption officials, the Kiwi reveals that the former star explained to him the nuances of fixing by batting slowly and how to hide the money trail by buying property in Dubai via an ‘ICC official’.
Hawkins’s report claims that this ‘star’ tried to persuade McCullum by saying that all ‘the big boys’ in international cricket were involved in it. McCullum told the investigators that he was first approached before the inaugural IPL when this star – known as X – called him to discuss a ‘business opportunity’.
“We spent some time talking about various things over dinner. During the course of this conversation he asked me if I knew what spread betting was in cricket games. I told him not really, so he took a piece of paper and wrote down and explained the process to me,” McCullum told investigators.
“I was really shocked as I saw X as a good friend and it totally confused me. X said that everybody was doing this in games.
“He said that the “Big Boys” in international cricket were doing it and he didn’t want me to miss out. I am sure that he mentioned names to me but I cannot remember, although I seem to think that X mainly mentioned Asian cricketers. Using the piece of paper X explained the basic principles which were to score below a certain rate for the first six or so overs and then towards the end of the game there was another split. X told me he had done this himself.
“[He] told me that potentially he could get for me from between $70,000-180,000 (£42-000-£107,000) a game.
“X told me he had a good group working for him in the ICL and I understand this to mean fixing for him. It was my opinion then, as it is now, that X was actively concerned in fixing… I believed he was asking me to do the same thing for him in the IPL as others were doing in the ICL.”
McCullum then queried the star about the transfer of money to New Zealand, and was told an elaborate system was in place to avoid any suspicion.
“X told me that you don’t take or send it back to New Zealand. He explained that he had a man in Dubai who was associated with cricket. Through him you purchase a property in Dubai which you retain for a couple of years before selling it.
“The money could then be moved wherever you want to send it because to all intents and purposes, it would appear to be profit from property deals rather than fixing. X told me the name of that man in Dubai.”
McCullum has said that he has ‘never, ever fixed’ any match, but on that occasion, he couldn’t muster to courage to say no right away. He claims to have returned to his hotel in a ‘state of shock’ after telling ‘X’ that he’d think about it. When X phoned him later, McCullum said he wasn’t interested.
“He was a hero who became a friend so I always found it difficult to say no,” McCullum said.
Within weeks, McCullum found himself being posed the same question again. Post IPL, New Zealand toured England where he met X again.
“We were staying in Worcester and he called asking to catch up. He said he was just down the road and suggested we meet for breakfast. I thought it strange he was in the area. X asked if I’d changed my mind and I knew he was talking about fixing. I told him I had not,” McCullum revealed.
NZC chief executive defends McCullum
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive David White has said he’s disappointed that McCullum’s testimony was leaked to the Daily Mail, but said has put his full support behind the national skipper, saying that this “small delay” in reporting the approach will not land McCullum in trouble.
All cricketers are required to report any approach to fix matches immediately to ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), and with McCullum’s revelations coming after almost 6 years, there were questions of whether he’d be charged by ICC for the violation of the corruption code.
White has however made it clear that McCullum isn’t under any investigations himself, and is only assisting ICC with his testimony.
“I’ve spoken to Brendon and he’s very disappointed he’s in the public domain,” David White said.
“He’s not under investigation and his testimony has been applauded by the ICC. He was approached and he rebuffed those approaches and he reported it to the ICC.
“We believe he’s done the right thing and we’ve got 100 per cent confidence in our captain and his role in tackling corruption.
“We understand there might have been a small delay in reporting the approaches but we know this has been canvassed by the ICC and they have no issues with it, at all.”
The Lou Vincent angle
McCullum’s revelations come days Lou Vincent – a former New Zealand cricketer – had claimed fixing to be a widespread reality in global cricket - especially in England’s domestic cricket and the now defunct rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Vincent struck a deal with ICC anti-corruption officials to bypass criminal prosecution for exchange of information on illegal betting and fixing in cricket. He claimed that he had played in at least 12 ‘fixed games’.
What Vincent and McCullum have revealed seems to be only the tip of the iceberg, and with India itself fighting off demons of last year’s revelations, along with the Supreme Court appointed Mudgal committee looking into the IPL-fixing issue, and ICC’s investigations around the globe, it won’t be a surprise before further heartbreaking revelations are made public to the sport’s fans.