Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BETTING syndicates from the Indian underworld are haunting Zimbabwe Cricket, with former captain Brendan Taylor becoming the second personality to admit receiving money for spot-fixing barely a year after Heath Streak was banned for eight years for breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code.
Spot-fixing is an illegal activity in which a specific aspect of a game, unrelated to the final result, but upon which a betting market exists, is fixed in an attempt to ensure a certain result in a proposition bet.
Circumstances for the two sports personalities, who had been bestowed the honour of leading the national team before disgracing themselves are similar in that they both stated that they met an Indian businessman, who enticed them by saying he wanted to launch a T20 competition in Zimbabwe.
In April last year, the International Cricket Council (ICC) revealed that Streak admitted to receiving two bitcoins worth US$35 000 and an expensive iPhone as a present for his wife from Indian businessman Deepak Agarwal, resulting in his subsequent ban.
Yesterday, Taylor issued a statement, pre-empting an ICC impending ban, saying he will be checking into rehabilitation today after being introduced to drugs in October 2019 at a celebratory dinner with colleagues of an Indian businessman he met to plan a T20 competition in Zimbabwe.
The disgraced ex-national team captain claimed that a video of him snorting cocaine was used to blackmail him into agreeing to spot-fix international games and received a deposit of US$15 000. In his statement, Taylor said he was promised US$20 000 after completion of his mission and it is not clear if he got the balance.
However, Taylor, who reported the matter to ICC after four months, claims he was not involved in match-fixing.
But could it be that Taylor continued taking drugs to the extent that he now needs rehabilitation?
“I’ve been carrying a burden for over two years now that has sadly taken me to some very dark places and had a profound effect on my mental health. And I’ve only recently managed to start sharing my story with close friends and family and receive the love and support. I guess I was too ashamed and frightened to seek in the first place.
“This may not make for comfortable reading, but I would like to make a statement regarding a finding made by the ICC, which is soon to be released,” Taylor said in his statement.
He said he was approached by an Indian businessman requesting that he travels to India to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and he would be paid US$15 000 to make the journey.
Taylor claims that because ZC had not paid players for six months, he decided to make the journey.
“The discussions took place, as he had said, and on our last night in the hotel, the businessman and his colleagues took me for a celebratory dinner. We had drinks and during the course of the evening they openly offered me cocaine, which they themselves engaged in, and I foolishly took the bait.
I’ve gone over it a million times since and still feel sick to my stomach reliving that night and how they played me.
“The following morning, the same men stormed into my hotel room and showed me a video taken of me the night before doing cocaine and told me that if I did not spot-fix at international matches for them, the video would be released to the public.
I was cornered. And with six of these individuals in my hotel room, I was scared for my own safety. I’d fallen for it. I’d willingly walked into a situation that has changed my life forever.”
Taylor was paid US$15 000 but was told it was a “deposit” for spot-fixing and an additional US$20 000 would be paid once the “job” was complete.
He took the money and returned home, but did not inform anyone about his Indian trip.
“When I returned home, the stress of what had taken place severely impacted my mental and physical health. I was a mess. I was diagnosed with shingles and prescribed strong anti-psychotic medication, amitriptyline.
“The ‘businessman’ wanted a return on his investment, which I could not and would not give. It took me four months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC. I acknowledge this was too long of a time, but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family.
I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and well-being, that they would understand the delay.
“Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports,” said Taylor.
He claims he has never been involved in any form of match-fixing and is not a cheat despite taking close to three years to disclose his shave with Indian bookmakers. — @ZililoR
Article Source: The Chronicle