Guilty or not, let’s not erode Chris Cairns cricketing pedigree

When a performer becomes tainted outside of their art, it can put you off from indulging in their talent. Screenshot 2015-11-29 10.26.31

I have no desire to wash a potentially guilty man’s hands of what he has done, but at the same time, as an underrated talent, he shouldn’t be stripped of what he achieved. 

People associate Chris Cairns with this complex scandal, and even if proven to be false, clouds hang over the legacy of a career. 

He’s accused of perjury and perverting the course of justice over a libel case against Lalit Modi, for which he could face up to seven years in jail if found guilty of. It’s clearly a very serious situation for him. 

Unlike Lou Vincent, who was also caught up in match fixing, and admitted cheating, but wasn’t a player I admired greatly;  Chris Cairns helped me start loving the sport. 

It may be strange, that a time when England were on the ascendency, Australia were one of the best teams in history, and the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and others were in full flow, some bloke from New Zealand is what caught my 11-year-old eye. 

One of my very earliest Test match experiences was watching Cairns’ last series as a cricketer.

In 2004, New Zealand were underachievers. They were a dogged side, often selecting half-baked allrounders and players on the lower side of true quality. 

I remember him going ballistic. I remember him smashing Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison all around Lord’s in a thrilling 82 off 47 at number eight.

I was only able to watch him in that series’, but countless YouTube videos later, and some time on ESPNCricinfo’s stats, has given me a much stronger appreciation for what he was as a player.

In Test cricket, he has more sixes than Viv Richards, and ended only one behind the might of Brian Lara. 

Yet few would dare mention him in the same sentence, when talking of the most destructive batsmen ever. I mean, Shahid Afridi is nowhere to be seen on that list, and he is adored worldwide for a similar reputation of six hitting.

Screenshot 2015-11-16 23.47.55

Not that stats are the reason I admire him – but as an allrounder, his batting average was over 30 and a bowling average under 30, which is a pretty solid measure of consistency and quality in equal measure. 

As a bowler, his strike rate is only marginally behind Sir Richard Handlee’s, with just 53, which is again, in the company of serious quality.

Chris Cairns feels quite obscure on the cricketing landscape in the grand scheme of things, but because he is already an underrated talent, it makes me appreciate him a bit more.

Now involved in this damaging case, his legacy’s chronic lack of appreciation will only be reinforced as he will become taboo.

I hope people still remember him as a ferocious talent, so I can keep hold of one of my earliest cricketing memories. 

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