Ricky Ponting 'was present when Cairns made business proposition to McCullum'


Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting was present when New Zealand player Brendon McCullum received a "business proposition" from Chris Cairns, a court has heard.

Mr Ponting, 40, told Cairns's perjury trial that he remembered a conversation he had with Mr McCullum in a hotel room in India in 2008.

At the time the men had been playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Mr McCullum took a short phone call and subsequently explained to Mr Ponting that it had been from Cairns making a "business proposal", the court was told.

Appearing at London's Southwark Crown Court via video link from Australia, former batsman Mr Ponting said: "I was staying with Brendon in the team hotel in Calcutta in 2008 on the eve of the first IPL tournament.

"We were just sitting, sharing a drink, when he received a phone call - his phone rang. It was a very brief phone conversation, probably less than five minutes.

"He put the phone down, hung up and said it was Cairnsy and he 'just made me a business proposition'."

Dressed in a dark grey suit, white shirt and deep blue tie, he added: "I didn't ask any more questions.

"We stayed together for a short time. I didn't ask any more questions ... As soon as I heard it was about business, I wasn't interested any more."

Giving evidence last week Mr McCullum, 34, claimed the proposition was about match fixing, and that Cairns told him other players "did not have the balls to do it".

He added that Cairns, who was considered one of the best all-rounders in the world for much of his career, shifted the discussion to the topic of "spot fixing" while they were in a hotel room in Calcutta in April 2008.

Mr McCullum, a wicketkeeper-batsman, said he was "shocked" by the query, in which Cairns allegedly sketched out his suggestions on a piece of paper.

Mr McCullum claimed the meeting took place in Cairns's hotel room. It had been arranged when Mr McCullum was in a bar with Mr Ponting, and Mr McCullum got a taxi to the hotel, he said.

Over a bottle of red wine and a curry ordered on room service, Cairns asked Mr McCullum if he knew "anything about spot fixing in cricket", Mr McCullum claimed.

In 2010 Cairns was accused by the chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, on Twitter of match-fixing at the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) two years earlier.

He brought a libel action against Mr Modi and successfully sued him, winning £90,000 in damages.

Cairns, 45, from Auckland, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, while Andrew Fitch-Holland, from Burton Road, Manchester, is accused of perverting the course of justice.

They both deny the charges.

The court heard that Mr McCullum had previously described Mr Ponting as his "best friend in cricket, outside New Zealand".

Orlando Pownall, defending Cairns, asked Mr Pointing if, as far as he was concerned, the "business proposition" made by Cairns to Mr McCullum had been "unremarkable".

The batsman replied: "Yes, because I had no idea what the proposal or proposition was, so it wasn't a remarkable thing."

He added that he had not been aware that Mr McCullum later met with Cairns, and that they had never spoken of the phone call again.

When Mr Pownall suggested this was "somewhat unusual" given the amount of time they had spent together at the tournament, Mr Ponting responded: "It was none of my business. Brendon's business life and personal life was none of my business.

"I was never going to ask him about business propositions."

Mr Pownall further asked: "Had Mr Cairns or anybody else approached you to fix matches, you would have gone straight to he authorities, wouldn't you?" "Yes," said Mr Ponting, adding that he would have reported any approach without undue delay.

Mr Pownall also asked Mr Ponting if his interest in horse racing had earned him the nickname "punter".

He agreed, telling the jury that he also understood what was meant by the terms "spread-betting" and "spot fixing".

Mr Ponting was asked if he would also have expected Mr McCullum to understand what the terms meant. He replied: "Right now I would, in 2008, maybe not as much."

However, the cricketer told jurors that it was likely match-fixing would have been a "feature of the game" in 2008.