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Morrison: Saddened...You can’t make money by corrupting cricket

Danny Morrison, in the city, on Thursday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh

Calcutta: Danny Morrison, who played 48 Tests and 96 ODIs for New Zealand, spoke to The Telegraph at The Park on Thursday afternoon.

Excerpts...

Q This has been an extraordinary week... Chris Cairns has denied he’s a fixer, New Zealand Cricket has had to deny that captain Brendon McCullum is being investigated, Lou Vincent’s former wife has spoken about life in the same house as a match-fixer... As a one-time senior pro, what’s your response?

A Saddened, disappointed... We’re a small nation where cricket isn’t the No.1 sport... Rugby is... We don’t need something to massively damage cricket. I expect a lot more to be revealed in the coming weeks, not only in New Zealand but in India as well, when details of the sealed cover (given to the Supreme Court) emerge. The South Africans were devastated when the Hansie Cronje scandal broke, in 2000... New Zealanders would be as shattered now.

You played with Cairns, who is at the centre of the latest scandal... Did you get the impression he could indulge in unlawful activities?

No.

Strangely, fixing seems to be gaining ground instead of dying down...

Much of it has to do with the T20 explosion... There are T20 leagues across the globe and the format probably lends itself to fixing. There could, for example, be unusual shots... All of which could have an explanation, purely because of the short format.

So, how can the integrity of the sport be maintained?

One way would be to legalise betting in countries such as India. The government will also increase its earnings through taxes... I don’t know why players get tempted... Is it because of situations in their personal life? Is it because they want to show the Establishment that they actually drive the sport? Is it because they get bored with their achievements and want to try something different? Is it because playing a game within a game will get their adrenalin going? I just don’t know.

But don’t the players have a responsibility? Aren’t they obliged to be clean?

Of course, they have to take pride in their performances. There are so many opportunities, for the national teams... For franchises in T20 leagues... Players should be grateful. The administrators must ensure that Test cricket doesn’t lose primacy... That position can’t go to T20, a format to be used as a vehicle to spread cricket.

You must be happy that the New Zealand government has amended the Crimes Act, 1961, to make fixing a criminal offence...

There you are... Absolutely. The laws have to be tough... Look at England... Salman Butt and Co. were put behind bars/sent to a correctional home in 2010... Sport is a very big business, where entertainment is a huge part. But it can’t be influenced by nasty, dark forces. You can’t make money by corrupting cricket. If you do, it’s like robbing a bank or embezzling funds.

The last one... Were you ever approached to under-perform?

No... It (fixing) wasn’t really prevalent in my time... There was talk during the tournaments in Sharjah in the mid 1980s, but I guess the fixing bit took off in the mid 1990s onwards.