Up to a dozen former New Zealand players may be asked to testify in Chris Cairns’ perjury case.
Chris Cairns stared down his former New Zealand team-mates plenty of times in the nets but next year could face up to 12 of them in court as he defends perjury charges.
A dozen former New Zealand representatives - Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Stephen Fleming, Chris Harris, Hamish Marshall, Brendon McCullum, Craig McMillan, Kyle Mills, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori and Lou Vincent - could be called as witnesses.
It was revealed on Friday Cairns will be charged with perjury relating to his successful defamation case against Lalit Modi, the former boss of the Indian Premier League.
Anyone called to the stand will be testifying before a captivated cricketing world, an audience larger than any they played in front of.
Deliveries of a 156g red or white leather sphere that could bruise bodies and egos will, within a year, morph into questions and answers that decide whether Cairns, a New Zealand cricketing great, is convicted for perjury, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison in Britain.
The circumstances are well-documented. The perjury charge stems from a High Court libel trial in London when Cairns won damages of 90,000 and costs against Modi.
Modi had tweeted the reason Cairns had been expelled from the now-defunct Indian Cricket League was because of match-fixing. Cairns left the ICL's Chandigarh Lions in 2008, with the official reason given as an undeclared injury.
Allegations have since surfaced that Cairns was involved in match-fixing with Chandigarh team-mates Vincent and Tuffey.
Vincent admitted to doing so but Cairns and Tuffey have denied any wrongdoing. Cairns described the allegations against him as "despicable lies".
The stakes have risen to a point where the outcome will now be decided at a jury trial in London.
In a statement on Friday, Cairns summed up the transition he and his former team-mates will make from the nets to the courtroom.
"I'm obviously extremely disappointed, however, at least 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."
The scene for the trial is being set.
Vincent and McCullum have testified to investigators about alleged approaches by Cairns in England during 2008. Vincent's lawyer, Chris Morris, is understood to be in England negotiating terms for his client's appearance at the trial.
Tuffey has been investigated by the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit for match-fixing, but has denied any involvement. He made a character statement in support of Cairns at the Modi libel trial.
Former New Zealand captains Fleming, Vettori and Mills have given statements to investigators. Cairns has said two of the three confirmed McCullum told them he had been approached by Cairns, but one's memory was too "foggy" to back up that assertion.
Adams, Harris, Astle, Bond, McMillan and Marshall all played in the ICL with Cairns.
The Herald on Sunday understands the priority is to get witnesses to appear on the stand.
In the Modi libel case, the judgment indicated less weight was given to accusers who did not appear in person. The judgment read: "An important aspect of this case is that some of the evidence on which the Defendant relies is hearsay."
The upshot is the creme de la creme of New Zealand cricketers from the late 1990s until the early 2000s, a period of rare dominance in which Cairns played a significant part, is about to be examined as never before, without a bat or ball in sight.
Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely to be a glossy advertisement for the New Zealand game.
When and where will the trial be?
The location will be London. The date is yet to be set but likely to be after the Cricket World Cup in February and March. A logical point might be after New Zealand's tour of England in May and June. The perjury charge will be laid on September 25 once Cairns returns to Britain voluntarily.
What does yesterday's news mean for Lalit Modi?
Modi's legal team is preparing potential civil proceedings against Cairns in relation to the libel case the New Zealand cricketer won against the former Indian Premier League boss in 2012. Modi cannot comment at this stage due to a court injunction. He's aware of the recent developments concerning Cairns and monitoring the story as it unfolds.
How is this case different to the defamation trial?
The burden of proof has moved. In the UK, if a claimant thinks what's written about them is defamatory, the onus is on the defendant to prove their comments are true. The accuser is effectively on trial and the claimant doesn't have to take the stand.
In a criminal case, such as those where perjury is involved, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty. The defendant doesn't have to prove they are innocent.
What is perjury?
Perjury is when someone lies under oath in court in a manner which could influence the legal result. It strikes at the heart of the justice system because it can create miscarriages of justice.
According to the British Serious Fraud Office the prosecution must prove:
• The witness was lawfully sworn in during a judicial proceeding.
• The witness made a statement wilfully.
• The statement was false.
• The witness knew it was false or did not believe it to be true.
• The statement was material in the judicial proceeding.
What is the punishment for perjury?
Upon conviction, seven years' jail is the maximum sentence in the UK. Precedents include novelist and politician Lord Jeffrey Archer in 2001, who was sentenced to four years' jail on two counts of perjury and two of perverting the course of justice. He served two years.