Ex-Zimbabwe captain opens up on ‘paralysing fear’ of spot fixing saga

Ex-Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has opened up on the 'paralysing fear' of being at the centre of a spot fixing saga.

In late 2019 the batsman claimed he was approached by spot-fixers disguised as businessmen who he believed wanted to secure sponsorships, as well as organising a T20 tournament and investing in a cricket academy in his native country.

However, as revealed by Taylor in a statement yesterday, the cricketer said they had looked to exploit a man who has battled booze binges throughout his near 20-year international career, which came to an end in 2021.

In a bid to convince Taylor of their plans, the businessmen allegedly paid him $15,000 to travel to India, where they were based, and entertained him for three days before throwing him a farewell party on the final evening, which featured alcohol and cocaine.

The cricket star then said he was blackmailed and given an additional $20,000 to spot fix matches for them, or they would release a video of him taking the illegal drug.

Taylor insisted he had never been involved in match fixing but the aftermath was brutal for the athlete, as he was diagnosed with shingles and opted to check himself into a rehab facility.

Now recalling the events of a traumatic time in his life, Taylor told Sportsmail : “'It was a paralysing fear.”

The cricketer shared how intimidated he felt throughout the ordeal and explained his desperation on which his decision to travel to India in the first place was based.

He continued: “Two bigger guys were always lurking, circling me. It felt very claustrophobic around my personal space. I was scared for my own safety. I'd fallen for it. I'd willingly walked into a situation that has changed my life for ever.

“At that time Zimbabwe was under suspension from the ICC for government interference and I didn't have an income coming in. I was six months with no salary, there were rumours we wouldn't be allowed to play for two years, and all I was trying to do was put food on the table. Prepare for life after playing.

“That's why I went. I'd told them on numerous occasions that if there was any skulduggery, they shouldn't waste time in getting me over there. That I was not wired that way.”

The Zimbabwe cricket legend, who has scored 17 international centuries for his side – a record only bettered by Andy Flower – tried to hand the money back, to the displeasure of those who claimed he “now worked for them.”

However, he later claimed that once he was on the plane home he felt they couldn't touch him and he had acted out of fear.

The star released a statement yesterday confirming the suspicious activity he was involved in and that he will be handed a ban by the ICC.

Taylor insisted he is not a cheat and claims he has not used the money given to him by the spot fixers.

“I haven't spent it. I put it in a safe straight away and have not touched it since," he said.

"I knew it was dirty money and I am ready to give it back however they want it.”

Taylor’s last match for his country came in a defeat to Ireland last September.

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