Why Rod Marsh snubbed Kiwi cricketer

AUSTRALIAN cricketer Rod Marsh once refused to sign a cricket bat carrying Chris Cairns' autograph because of the taint of match-fixing rumours surrounding the New Zealand great.

The snub was given as an example of Cairns being given the "cold shoulder" in sections of the cricketing fraternity following his dismissal from the Indian Cricket League in October 2008.

His friend Andrew Fitch-Holland, the final witness in the trial, told the jury about how he wrote a letter to the International Cricket Council in late 2009 to clarify whether Cairns was being investigated.

The ICC replied to say that the ICL was not under its jurisdiction.

"As far as I was aware, I took that as confirmation the ICC weren't sniffing around Chris," said Fitch-Holland, who is jointly charged with Cairns of perverting the course of justice.

Asked why he wrote to the ICC, Fitch-Holland referred to the "Rod Marsh incident".

The court heard that Marsh, a wicketkeeper for Australia in the 1980s and currently a national selector, refused to autograph a cricket bat for a charity auction because Cairns had already signed it.

Marsh heard a match-fixing rumour about Cairns from someone in the ICC, said Fitch-Holland, so it was decided he should write to the governing body for clarification.

Lalit Modi posted a tweet online in January 2010 which alleged Cairns was involved in match-fixing, so the cricketer took libel proceedings against the millionaire cricket administrator.

Cairns eventually won the case at a trial in 2012 and Modi was forced to pay 90,000 pounds in damages, as well as Cairns' substantial legal costs.

Despite investing "countless hours" helping Cairns prepare for the case, and borrowing hundreds of pounds to travel into London each day for the trial, Fitch-Holland said Cairns did not honour a promise to cover his costs.

He wrote a lengthy email in which he said Cairns "had made him feel like a fool" in order to embarrass him into paying him.

Their close friendship was also strained by Fitch-Holland's opinion of Cairns leaving his second wife Carin in order to start a new relationship.

In his interview with police shortly before his arrest, Fitch-Holland was disparaging of Cairns' third wife Mel and described her as the "kind of girl who liked bright, shiny things".

In cross-examination, Sasha Wass QC asked if he meant "bright, shiny things like diamonds" and if Fitch-Holland thought Mel Cairns was a "gold digger".

He said that was a "fair indication at the time, but not my opinion now".

The court has previously heard accusations from the Crown prosecutor that Cairns was paid $US250,000 by a diamond trader in Dubai as payment for fixing cricket matches in the ICL.

Cairns has told the jury he was on a retainer as an ambassador for the diamond company and was trying to forge a new career in the industry.

At one point during the cross-examination, Justice Nigel Sweeney chastised Fitch-Holland and Ms Wass for "tendentious arguments" and to ask "proper questions" and give "proper answers".

The flashpoint came as Ms Wass questioned Fitch-Holland's explanation of comments attributed to him in 2010.

Last week, Fitch-Holland gave evidence about a cricket match between Bromley and Lashings, an annual festival match which included a "massive lunch" for 1000 under a large marquee.

Chris Harris, the former New Zealand cricketer played for Lashings, and has previously given evidence at trial about the lunch in 2010.

Fitch-Holland joined a conversation at the lunch, said Harris, and someone else said words to the effect of "Poor Cairnsy, what's about Cairnsy?"

Harris said Fitch-Holland responded: "Oh he's guilty, Cairnsy's guilty."

He thought the match-fixing defamation case against Lalit Modi was the context of the "Cairnsy's guilty" comment from Fitch-Holland.

Fitch-Holland said he was "plastered" from drinking alcohol and could not remember saying those words.

If he did say those words, Fitch-Holland said he could have said "Cairnsy' guilty" but in the context of his personal life, not match-fixing.

"I would have said the only thing Chris Cairns is guilty of is not keeping his trousers zipped up."

In cross-examination, Ms Wass said Chris Harris was "struck" by the comment and thought Fitch-Holland was trying to boast of "inside knowledge".

She said there was no reason for Fitch-Holland to think the conversation was about Cairns' personal life, as he had split from his wife two years before the lunch in question.

Fitch-Holland said he was drunk and not part of the conversation - that it was a throwaway comment about his friend's infidelity.

"I could not have said Chris is guilty in the context of match-fixing because I have never ever believed that to be the case."

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