Brendan Taylor, the former Zimbabwe captain, is set to become the second big name from his country after former fast bowler Heath Streak to have breached the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption Code in recent times.
In a statement posted on Taylor’s Twitter handle on Monday, the recently retired 35-year-old wicketkeeper-batter said the ICC is about to impose a “multi-year ban” on him after he delayed reporting a corrupt approach by “an Indian businessman” to the governing body for four months. The Harare-born Taylor, who had a long playing career for Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2021, said that in October 2019, he had been requested by the businessman to come to India to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 tournament in the African country. He said he was told he would be paid US$ 15,000 for the trip. “The timing was such that we hadn’t been paid for 6 months by Zimbabwe cricket (the country’s cricket board) and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena. So I made the journey,” Taylor stated. At a celebratory dinner with the businessman and his colleagues, Taylor said he was offered cocaine, and he “foolishly took the bait”. The next morning, Taylor claimed he was blackmailed by the same group of men that if he did not spot-fix during international games for them, they would make their video of him taking cocaine 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,” he said.
Taylor added that he was given the promised US$ 15,000 but was also told that it was a “deposit” for spot-fixing and that an additional US$ 20,000 would be paid once he carried out the fix. “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,” he said. Taylor’s case is the latest illustrative example of what the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit has been tracking: players from smaller international teams, where official compensation isn’t usually lucrative and can be delayed, being increasingly targeted by bookies, mainly from India. BCCI’s ACU chief, Shabbir Khandwawala, says the board is aware of Taylor’s situation, and that the “usual targets” are “such players from vulnerable countries who are not big enough or don’t have enough money”. Taylor played 34 Tests, 205 ODIs and 45 T20Is for Zimbabwe until his retirement in September 2021. Invariably, there has been an Indian connection in most cases. In 2018, the ICC’s then ACU chief Alex Marshall had warned that “it is mostly corrupt Indian bookies” who have been approaching players. In the same year, a Zimbabwe cricket official of Indian origin was banned for allegedly offering then captain Graeme Creamer money to fix a game. Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan is the most high-profile player to have been banned in recent times — in October 2019 — for not reporting multiple approaches from an Indian businessman.