Chris Harris, the former New Zealand bowler, told Southwark Crown Court today how Chris Cairns “almost seemed like he was not pleased” when his team, Chandigarh Lions, beat Mumbai Champs in an Indian Cricket League contest in March 2008 that has since been tainted with allegations of match-fixing.
Cairns, who denies two counts of perjury and perverting the course of justice, had worn an “unusual” expression on his face at the moment of victory in Hyderabad, according to Harris, after Chandigarh’s wicketkeeper, Sarabjit Singh, had cracked 41 not out from 22 balls to seal a two-wicket victory in the final over of the match.
The match has previously been identified by Lou Vincent, who gave evidence during the first week of the trial, as one of “three or four” fixtures that he had been paid by Cairns to manipulate.
Harris, who played in all three ICL tournaments in 2007 and 2008, described Chandigarh’s target of 136 as “modest”, adding that Sarabjit had played a “splendid innings” to rescue his team from 70 for 6 in the 13th over. However, he also recalled “a number of strange incidents” in the course of the contest.
In the end, Sarabjit sealed the match with a six, and footage of the winning moment was played by Orlando Pownall, QC, Cairns’ defence lawyer, to the court. In it, Cairns was seen smiling and embracing one of his team-mates.
“It’s perfectly plain, that after that six went over the boundary, the Chandigarh Lions appeared to be delighted,” said Pownall. “Do you agree?”
“I don’t believe that was the footage I saw,” Harris replied. “I would agree with you that was a fair amount of emotion after winning a game.”
Harris, who was captain of Hyderabad Heroes, also recalled a match against Chandigarh in which Cairns had won the toss and batted first, despite the fact that 80 percent of the teams that bowled first had won on that particular ground. “It was a bit of a surprise to me,” he recalled.
Harris also claimed that Cairns’ co-defendant and former attorney, Andrew Fitch-Holland, who denies perverting the course of justice during his client’s libel action against Lalit Modi in 2012, had admitted Cairns’ guilt even before that case went to court.
Cairns successfully sued Modi after he tweeted allegations of match-fixing in 2010. However, Harris claimed that, during a Lashings game at Bromley Cricket Club, Fitch-Holland had conceded Cairns’ guilt in a conversation with a group of players.
“Someone asked him a question along the lines of “poor Cairnsy, what’s up with Cairnsy?”, Harris told the court. “Mr Fitch-Holland, to my surprise, replied ‘Cairnsy’s guilty’.”
Sasha Wass, QC, the crown prosecutor asked Harris to clarify whether this conversation had taken place before or after the libel action.
Harris replied: “I believe it was before.”
However, under cross-examination from Mr Pownall, Harris conceded that he may have been mistaken, as his name had not appeared on the records for any Lashings match at Bromley in 2009.
“That possibly could be the case,” said Harris.
The comment, it was suggested, may have related to Cairns’ marital problems.
The trial will continue from 12 noon tomorrow.