Harare, Jan 24 | Former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batter Brendan Taylor has made explosive claims that an unnamed Indian businessman allegedly tried to force him to spot-fix international games, threatening to make public a video of the cricketer taking cocaine if he did not submit to his command.
The 35-year-old Taylor, who retired from international cricket in September last year, posted a four-page letter on social media on Monday in which he explained how he was conned into flying to India in October 2019 by a businessman on the pretext of discussing sponsorship details and the potential launch of a Twenty20 tournament in Zimbabwe.
Taylor said the circumstances were such that he accepted the offer to fly to India, claiming he was hard-pressed for money as Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) had not paid salaries for six months. Taylor, who is one of Zimbabwe’s best-known cricketers, added that he was tricked into taking cocaine and a video made, which was later used to blackmail him.
The cricketer said that when he returned home, the “stress of what had taken place severely impacted” his mental and physical health. He also added that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had made a finding, which it will soon release.
In his statement on twitter, Taylor, who has 6,684 ODI runs from 205 ODIs and is marginally short of Andy Flower’s national record of 6,786, said he had been carrying the burden for two years.
“Now that has sadly taken me to some very dark places and had a profound effect on my mental health. I would like to make a statement regarding a finding made by the ICC, which is soon to be released. In late October 2019, I was approached by an Indian businessman requesting that I attend India to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and was advised that I would be paid USD 15,000 to make the journey. I can’t deny I was a little wary. But the timing was such that we hadn’t been paid for six months by Zimbabwe Cricket and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena. So I made 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,” said Taylor.
“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. 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.
“I was handed the USD 15,000 but was told this was now a ‘deposit’ for spot-fixing and that an additional USD 20,000 would be paid once the “job” was complete. I took the money so I could get on a plane and leave India. I felt I had no choice at the time because saying no was clearly not an option. All I knew was I had to get out of there.
“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 antipsychotic medication — amitriptyline.
Taylor said that it took him some time to report the matter to the ICC, adding that he delayed approaching the global governing body for the sport as he felt his family could be in trouble.
“The ‘businessman’ wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me 4 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 wellbeing, 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.”
Taylor said that he had never been involved in any form of match-fixing, adding that his love for the sport far outweighed any threats thrown in his way.
“I would like to place on record that I have never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threats which could be thrown my way. As a result of approaching the ICC, I attended multiple interviews and engagements and was as honest and transparent as I could be during their investigations. That being said, the ICC are taking the decision to impose a multi-year ban on my international cricketing career. I humbly accept this decision and only hope that my story will be used as a means of encouragement for cricketers to report any approaches early.”
He said he would be entering a rehabilitation centre on January 25 to get clean and to get “my life back on track.”