Chris Cairns' initiative in fronting media and questioning the International Cricket Council's latest match-fixing investigation may have had a motive, according to legal experts.

The Herald on Sunday sought counsel to gauge why the former New Zealand all-rounder chose to highlight the issue again rather than keeping quiet about allegations and rumours he has already strongly denied. Cairns and former team-mates Daryl Tuffey and Lou Vincent have not been officially accused of any wrongdoing in the ICC inquiry.

Cairns' counter-attack confronted the situation, including challenges to board members and former New Zealand cricketers Sir Richard Hadlee, Martin Snedden and Geoff Allott as to how they would feel in similar circumstances.

There may have been further reasons that Cairns came forward, according to legal advice. Cairns stressed that the Sunday of the New Zealand-India test at Eden Park was his final day of employment for Sky Television, from whom he's been on gardening leave since news of an ICC match-fixing probe was broken in the New Zealand Herald in December.

Advertisement

According to lawyers, that creates a point from which he could be entitled to lost earnings should he mount any future court case in pursuit of income opportunities allegedly denied him.

"The impact of this on my career and the professional opportunities in front of me is very serious," Cairns said in a pre-prepared statement at the time. "My livelihood is directly linked to my reputation. So, while this dark cloud hangs over me, my ability to work and provide for my family is almost non-existent."

Talking to the media afterwards, he reiterated the point: "The circumstances are extraordinary in that my name was leaked to media, therefore the damage it does to your reputation and employment possibilities is quite substantial. We're reviewing that. For me, it comes down to responsible reporting: What is the agenda behind my name being put out there? Why me?"

Cairns' move also puts time pressure on the ICC to start building a case, knowing he has a logical starting point from which to begin establishing financial loss. The all-rounder also made a plea to former team-mates.

"[I want them to] go on the record. Contact the ICC. If anyone is man enough to be saying things behind my back, say it to the people you should be saying it to, or to me. The thing that irks me with New Zealand Cricket from day one is that I've had the door shut in my face.

"If you've got information, go to the authorities, man up. That's all I've ever done. The way the ICC is recklessly going about tarnishing my employment chances and future earnings means I can't sign any further contracts until I'm cleared by the ICC. This is severely impacting my ability to provide for my family."

In match-fixing investigations, anyone coming forward with incriminating evidence can risk implicating themselves. If a player is exonerated in one country or a witness granted immunity from prosecution, a case can still be brought against them in another country. Another factor affecting the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) is their tendency to go after what Ed Hawkins, the author of the match-fixing book Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy, referred to as "soft kills" in probes - players who are already out of the game.

One source suggested such cases were "like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic 10 years after she sank". Players might be confronted with match-fixing claims but the organised crime outfits behind much of the illegal betting have ample time to cover their tracks.

When Hawkins spoke to the Herald on Sunday in December, he said the ICC investigations often targeted past players.

"The ACSU are often criticised but it appears they've got one hand tied behind their back as to what they can do. The three who are being investigated are all former players. I wonder sometimes if the ICC lets its department go for anyone else."

In fairness to the ACSU, its powers are often limited. Most employees are former policemen who don't have police powers of investigation.

The investigation involving Cairns, Vincent and Tuffey has now been referred to London's Metropolitan Police.