Disgraced: Brendan Taylor in spot fixing storm
Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has revealed that the ICC is about to “impose a multi-year ban on my international cricketing career” after he allegedly delayed reporting a corrupt approach “by an Indian businessman”. Taylor had met with the businessman after being asked “to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe”.
Taylor delayed reporting the incident, which took place in October 2019, and involved a meeting in India during which substance abuse allegedly took place. That meeting led subsequently to Taylor being allegedly blackmailed and he delayed reporting the approach since he “thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family”.
He eventually went to the ICC “on my own terms” and said he had hoped that “if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay”. He also explicitly said in his statement that he has “never been involved in any form of match-fixing”.
Taylor’s statement said: “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 6 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.
“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.
“I was cornered. And with 6 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| knew was | 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 anti-psychotic medication – amitriptyline.
“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 | hoped that if | 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.
“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. Inside and outside I was beating myself up and I still wish I had sought support and advice earlier for a multitude of reasons.
“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.
“I will admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally and it is from absolute rock bottom that I am trying to climb out of this mess I made. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me and it is clear to me now that I have a much bigger problem which for some time has needed addressing.
“And so, I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be away and trying to get better.
“l owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first. I have let a substance take control of me and impair my vision, my morals and my values and it is time that I prioritise what really matters.
“I also hope my story inspires someone who hears it, to get the help that they need. I had not realized that coming forward and talking would give me so much relief from the hell I have found myself in for years. Drugs and narcotics do not discriminate and it took all that I have to admit that I have a problem.
“To end I need to let you know I am sorry for those I have hurt. I am sorry for those I have let down.”
The ICC is yet to comment on the matter.
In all Taylor captained Zimbabwe in 71 games spread across 2011 and 2021 across the three formats. He was full-time captain between mid-2011 and mid 2014, before Zimbabwe went the split captaincy route and Taylor remained in charge only in Test cricket. Then, at the end of the 2015 World Cup, he retired from internationals and went to the UK on a Kolpak deal aged 29. In late 2017, he ended his Kolpak deal and returned to Zimbabwean cricket.
Another former Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak, was banned by the ICC for breaches of the anti-corruption code in April 2021.