McCullum stands by evidence given in Cairns court case

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum says he stands by the evidence he gave at the recent perjury trial of former teammate Chris Cairns, although Cairns' acquittal has raised questions over whether he was believed by a Crown Court jury in London.

McCullum was the prosecution's leading witness in the trial of Cairns, the former New Zealand allrounder who was alleged to have lied in a libel action against Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi who had accused him of involvement in match fixing.

In evidence, McCullum said he had been approached by Cairns in 2008 and encouraged to become involved in match-fixing. Cairns' legal team sought to discredit McCullum's evidence by pointing out he took three years to report the alleged approach, then changed elements of his story on later occasions.

On the eve New Zealand's first test against Sri Lanka in Dunedin, McCullum faced the media on Wednesday for the first time since Cairns' acquittal. Few questions at the conference related to the test match; instead McCullum was quizzed on his evidence and the fallout from the Cairns trial.

McCullum said he stood by the evidence he gave at the Southwark Crown Court in London and did not believe his reputation had been damaged by the jury's apparent rejection of the case against Cairns.

In a column published by a New Zealand newspaper on Sunday, Cairns said he would like to ask McCullum ''why did you bring all of this pain and suffering upon my family?''

McCullum said Wednesday he had no plans to speak to Cairns and address that question.

''I don't think I have to do that,'' he said. ''I was very comfortable with the evidence I gave in London and I stand by that evidence as well.

''This is not the forum to discuss this sort of thing. I don't think my reputation has been on the line, I was one of several witnesses. People have their own opinions on what unfolded but I am comfortable with it and it's time to focus on a bit of cricket now.''

Modi is reported to be considering a civil action against Cairns to retrieve damages and legal costs he incurred when a jury upheld Cairns' libel action. If Modi proceeds, McCullum faces the prospect of again being called as a witness.

One of the elements of Modi's action is likely to be that the International Cricket Council was in possession of McCullum's statement about Cairns at the time of the original libel trial but did not make it available to Modi, though his lawyers had asked for documents pertinent to the case.

McCullum told reporters he did not know whether he might have to testify again.

''It's speculation,'' he said. ''Again, it's not the forum to be discussing that sort of thing. We'll see what happens down the line.''

McCullum's involvement in the Cairns trial is one of several factors overshadowing the first of two tests between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, beginning at the University Oval on Thursday.

Sri Lanka faces its own controversy after being forced to send home wicketkeeper Kusal Perera who it was revealed on Monday failed a doping test during a recent home series against Pakistan.

Perera was chosen for a random drug test during that series in June and July and Sri Lanka Cricket and the ICC revealed Monday initial tests had shown the presence of a banned substance. Under ICC rules, Perera has 14 days to request a hearing before an anti-doping tribunal.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Sri Lanka coach Jerome Jayaratne said he was ''baffled'' by reports Perera had failed a drug test. He said Perera had told him he had ''taken some medication for a bite on his foot'' but Perera insisted the medication was not on the ICC list of banned substances.

Sri Lanka has also lost its leading fast bowler, Dhammika Prasad, to a back injury suffered in a warmup match.