'Three Kiwi players at centre of fixing investigation'
Wellington: New Zealand Cricket was on Thursday rocked by allegations of match-fixing with media reports claiming that three cricketers, including former all-rounder Chris Cairns, are being investigated by the ICC for their role in fixing.
A report in the 'New Zealand Herald' claimed Cairns, who was commentating for Sky TV in the New Zealand-West Indies Test series till the news broke, fast bowler Daryl Tuffey and batsman Lou Vincent are the players who are believed to be under investigation.
Neither the ICC nor the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has confirmed the names of the players being investigated but the world cricket body (ICC) has acknowledged that a probe is on.
"The ICC confirms that it has indeed been working closely over the past few months with its colleagues in the domestic anti-corruption units of Member Boards to investigate these and related matters," ICC said in a release.
"Naturally, as the investigation remains ongoing and nobody has been charged with any offence, no further comment will be made by the ICC or by NZC," the release added.
Sky TV spokesperson Kirsty Way said Cairns was no more doing commentary after being named.
"This was news to Sky and we understand it was news to Chris. He has elected to stop commentating on the current test match and come back to Auckland to be with his family. Sky will be talking to him over the coming days," she Way was quoted as saying by 'New Zealand Herald'.
The newspaper had earlier reported that members of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit have been in the country over the past four months investigating the participation of New Zealanders in fixing "in more than one country."
The newspaper said the findings of the investigation would likely result "in the biggest sports scandal in New Zealand's history."
New Zealand Cricket boss David White speaking at a press conference before the third day's play in the opening test, said they are "shocked and surprised" by the allegations.
"NZC had been aware the ICC had been investigating the activities of a ''small number" of former New Zealand cricketers for several months. Firstly no current New Zealand players are being investigated, no games played in New Zealand are being investigated, and lastly no matches under NZC's jurisdiction are being investigated," he said.
Vincent has issued a statement, confirming that his role was being investigated.
"I wish to let everyone know that I am cooperating with an ongoing ICC Anti-Corruption investigation that has been made public today. This investigation is bound by a number of rules and regulations that mean I am unable to make any further public comment," Vincent said.
"I will personally talk to the public when I am able to. In the meantime I cannot comment. Please respect me and my family's privacy until such time," his said further in his statement.
Not only the cricket but also political circles were shocked at the news with Prime Minister John Key saying that it would be "very, very serious" if match fixing allegations against three former New Zealand cricketers were proved true.
"New Zealand is a country that sees itself as a very above-board, honest place both to do business and to play sport so it would be deeply concerning if this was factually correct," Key said.
"New Zealanders expect sport to be played fairly and they expect sports men and women to perform - in a way which upholds the ethics of their sport and not to be doing it to make money in an underhand way. It would be a very, very serious issue indeed if it is proved to be correct," Key said.
Meanwhile, the head of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association Heath Mills said it was a "sad day" for the sport.
Mills said he had been made aware of the investigation and knew the players involved, but was unable to divulge names because "these matters will likely be the subject of a judicial process".
"We're not happy that other past players are coming under suspicion. We are working with New Zealand cricket to see what we can do about that. We are also conscious of the fact NZC and the ICC are bound by rules and regulations around confidentiality. In effect, the onus falls on those who are the subject of the investigation," Mills said.
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