New Zealand cricket great Chris Cairns feels he can talk candidly about the pain of match-fixing allegations brought against him now that he has survived multiple health scares.
The former allrounder spoke publicly for the first time Monday about the court battles to clear his name spanning 2012 to 2015.
Interviewed on a podcast hosted by media company NZME, Cairns said the high-profile trials had consumed his life and that he had harboured “anger and animosity” after having his credibility scrutinised and his career effectively shredded — even though he was never found guilty.
The 51-year-old’s attitude has changed since suffering a heart attack last August that placed him on life support.
He subsequently became paralysed from the waist down after suffering a stroke during one of four open-heart surgeries.
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In February, he revealed he had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Canberra-based Cairns told the podcast the health battles carried a silver lining – helping cleanse his mind of the dark feelings that had hounded him since 2015.
“I harboured a lot of anger and frustration, but I carried that silently. I dug my hole in Australia and got on with life … but I was angry,” he said.
“But now, after the last seven months, it’s so far down my thinking. It’s not a priority. It seems like another time, another place.
“Maybe during that time it (the match-fixing trials) built up the steel in me that allowed me to survive what I went through – because it was about survival at that time. I was on my own, cast as the villain, that was my role.
“Building that resilience up, who’s to say that wasn’t a contributing factor in helping me fight.”
In March 2012, Cairns successfully sued former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi for libel, after Modi alleged on Twitter that the New Zealander had been involved in match-fixing in 2008.
Cairns won costs and damages.
The Metropolitan Police later announced charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice against Cairns, stemming from the Modi libel trial.
It put him under the international blow torch for eight weeks at London’s High Court, late in 2015. He would ultimately be acquitted.
Despite losing all cricket-related work in the wake of a trial he described as “horrendous”, Cairns says he doesn’t regret taking action against Modi.
“No, you have to stand up for what you believe. Lalit did his thing by firing that (tweet) off,” Cairns said.
“He was the most influential name in the game of cricket and the unintended consequence of that set things in motion. If you had asked me that question in July of last year, I know there would be a different response.”
Father-of-five Cairns said he bears no grudges against former international teammates Brendon McCullum and Lou Vincent, who were among those to testify against him.
The son of another former international allrounder, Lance Cairns, he is ranked seventh among New Zealand Test wicket-takers (218) and 13th among run-scorers (3,320).
© Agence France-Presse