By ENOCK MUCHINJO Associated Press
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Former Zimbabwe cricket captain Brendan Taylor admitted Monday he took money from match-fixers who tried to blackmail him into manipulating international games with a secret video of him using cocaine on a visit to India in 2019.
Taylor said that the International Cricket Council was about to impose a “multi-year ban" on him and he had decided to release his statement before that.
Even though he took $15,000 from the fixers, Taylor said he never fixed or manipulated games. The 35-year-old batsman retired from international cricket late last year.
Taylor said he was invited to India to discuss what he was told was a sponsorship opportunity in October 2019. At a dinner with businessmen, he was offered cocaine and "foolishly took the bait."
"The following morning, the same men entered my hotel room to show me a video taken of me the night before doing cocaine and told me that if I did not partake in spot fixing at international matches, the video would be released to the public," Taylor said.
Taylor said he took the $15,000 from the men, who said it was now a “deposit” for him to fix and they promised him another $20,000 once the fixing “job” was complete.
Taylor said that he took four months to report the incident to the ICC and accepted that was against cricket's anti-corruption rules. He would “humbly” accept the ban from the ICC, he said, “and only hope that my story will be used as a means of encouragement for cricketers to report any illicit approaches as early as possible.”
Taylor also said that he would be checking into a rehabilitation center on Tuesday “to get clean and get my life back on track.”
“I owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first,” he said. “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.”
He said he had also been taking medication to treat mental health issues and had been experiencing “hell” for years because of his problems with “drugs and narcotics.”
Taylor played 34 tests, 205 one-day internationals and 45 T20 games for Zimbabwe over a 17-year career from 2004-2021, although he took a three-year sabbatical from internationals in 2015 to play county cricket in England. He was captain from 2011 up until he left for England.
Taylor is one of Zimbabwe's best players and is fourth on the list of the country's top run-scorers in test cricket and second on Zimbabwe's ODI list.
Former Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo, who coached Taylor when he was a teenager as well as at national level, said it was “heart-wrenching” to hear of his fall from grace.
Alan Butcher, another former Zimbabwe coach, said Taylor “has been a great performer for Zimbabwe and I hope people will remember his contribution as he attempts to rebuild his life. His is a cautionary tale for all cricketers.”
Taylor's admission comes nearly a year after former Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak was banned from all cricket for eight years for breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code. Streak was suspended because of his relationship with an Indian businessman who sought inside information for illegal betting purposes and bribed Streak with gifts including Bitcoins and an iPhone for his wife.