CORRESPONDENT - Cairns case twist

5:24 am on 27 September 2014

It's either the biggest sporting scandal in New Zealand sport - or the biggest injustice.

The match-fixing allegations swirling around former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns have taken another twist with him now charged with perjury by the Metropolitan Police in London.

Chris Cairns.

Chris Cairns - determined to prove he is innocent. Photo: AFP

The claim relates to his 2012 defamation case against the man who established the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi.

Cairns was awarded $NZ180,000 in damages after Modi accused him of match-fixing in the now defunct Indian Cricket League.

Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi outside the High Court in London in 2012.

Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi outside the High Court in London in 2012. Photo: AFP

The Metropolitan Police investigation is separate to the International Cricket Council investigation into match-fixing that has already claimed the career of former Black Cap Lou Vincent.

There is no middle ground in all of this. Not only has Cairns denied the match-fixing allegations, he has gone on the offensive to vehemently deny them.

When Vincent, who was subsequently banned for life, went to the ICC over his part in match-fixing in English county cricket saying he was recruited into the match-fixing game by "Player X", Cairns came forward to say that he believed Vincent was talking about him.

However, he denied any involvement in match-fixing.

When New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum also provided information to the ICC saying he was approached by a legend of the game to become involved in match-fixing, Cairns conceded that McCullum was also referring to him, but rejected the allegations as "despicable lies."

Rather than waiting for the latest perjury charges to be made public, Cairns again front-footed things saying he would be charged.

"There will now be an opportunity to face my accusers in an open forum, with some rigour and proper process around that, so that I can clear my name once and for all," he said.

"I hope that, through this forum, significant additional information will be flushed out that will help people to better assess the situation, as well as the character and motives of the parties involved ... but I have nothing to hide and I will do whatever it takes to once again prove my innocence."

Chris Cairns, always combative on the field, celebrates a wicket during a test against Australia in November 1997.

Chris Cairns, always combative on the field, celebrates a wicket during a test against Australia in November 1997. Photo: Photosport

Confronting things head-on

Chris Cairns is not the only athlete to take such an approach when serious allegations have been levelled.

American cyclist Lance Armstrong denied for more than 10 years his guilt in using drugs to help him to seven Tour de France titles - which he was subsequently stripped of.

Some might think Cairns 'doth protest too much' and is using Armstrong's playbook of 'Deny, Deny, Deny'. On the other hand, if Cairns is innocent - it can be no surprise that he has been so strident in his denials.

Battening down the hatches and riding out the storm was not an option, it seems. Certainly, his playing style was to confront things head-on and, given this attack on his credibility and integrity, it's no surprise he's not taking a backward step.

Just why is highlighted by Justice Bean's comments in his verdict in favour of Cairns in the 2012 defamation case.

"An allegation that a professional cricketer is a match-fixer goes to the very core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity.

"The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences. But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman," Justice Bean said.

NZ sport not immune

Cairns maintains there are "dark forces" at play in all of this. Perhaps this latest trial will bring them into the light.

But no matter the outcome of the perjury trial, any notion that New Zealand sport is above suspicion when it comes to match-fixing is naive.

Lou Vincent - banned for life after admitting match-fixing in county cricket.

Lou Vincent - banned for life after admitting match-fixing in county cricket. Photo: AFP

Lou Vincent is banned for life from the sport for match-fixing in English county cricket having told the ICC of picking up cash drops at laundries around the United Kingdom.

Recently, too, there has been the case of jockey David Walker, who was banned for seven years from horse racing for holding back his horse to affect the result.

The fact that jockeys are still able to bet on races at all - when other sportspeople such as professional rugby players are banned from betting on the sport altogether - defies belief.

The only redeeming factor in the Walker case is that racing authorities have moved to ban jockeys from betting on any day they are competing.

Match-fixing legislation, which is currently before the New Zealand Parliament and is set to be in place before next year's Cricket World Cup, is another indication that the powers that be are taking the issue seriously.

The question is, whether such legislation should have been implemented years ago?

Irrespective of how the Cairns case plays out, it is certainly one of the most intriguing chapters in New Zealand sporting history.

What we don't know is whether Cairns will be revealed as the hero - or the villain.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs