South Africa news November 2, 2010

Cullinan hits out at Gibbs book claims

ESPNcricinfo staff

Daryll Cullinan, the former South Africa batsman, has denied exposing team-mates for smoking marijuana during the 2001 tour of the Caribbean following statements made by Herschelle Gibbs in his new autobiography.

In a separate development, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said it would comment on the issues arising from Gibbs' book only if its legal counsel, which was examining the matter, deemed it necessary.

Cullinan rejected claims that he betrayed Gibbs, Paul Adams, Roger Telemachus, Andre Nel, Justin Kemp and physiotherapist Craig Smith after it emerged they had smoked marijuana to celebrate the series win against West Indies in Antigua.

Cullinan wrote in his sport24 column that Graham Ford, the coach, had been informed by his wife who had smelt the drug while staying in an adjacent room and that he only found out from the coach and team manager, Goolam Raja. Cullinan felt the players should be sent home, but the captain Shaun Pollock didn't agree.

"She [Ford's wife] informed her husband who in turn informed Rajah. Rajah and Ford told me of this," Cullinan wrote. "En route from Kingston to Montego Bay, Ford approached me about the matter. I was of the opinion that the players should be sent home."

That account is entirely contradictory to the one offered in Gibbs' book, which recounts how Cullinan had an altercation with Telemachus, the former pace bowler, in Montego Bay. Gibbs alleges that during a break in a two-day tour match Telemachus and Cullinan became involved in a fight and that Telemachus pushed Cullinan into some chairs.

According to Gibbs, Cullinan was so "apoplectic with rage" that he stormed back to the hotel and Gibbs had to field in his place. Then, Gibbs claims, Cullinan told Rajah that he was "tired of this team" and that they had smoked marijuana.

"Gibbs alleges that there was physical contact during my altercation with Telemachus in the Montego Bay dressing room," Cullinan wrote. "For Gibbs to claim this is laughable as they were other players present. Telemachus, for the second time on the tour, verbally abused me after my strong reaction to his lack of changing room respect and decency. The first incident was in the Antiguan changing room after the series win."

Rajah called a meeting of senior players asking their advice, but Cullinan was also approached personally. Cullinan added that he warned Rajah that unless he let higher authorities know he would be "once again be fingered for his lack of control as a team manager."

Gibbs and Cullinan played together for six years from 1996 to 2002, but Gibbs admitted to having "never understood or liked" Cullinan and said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that he had heard the Cullinan was unhappy with parts of his book.

Cullinan called the story "irresponsible and defamatory" made worse by the fact that he was still under a suspended sentance for his part in 2000 match-fixing scandal. "For a person like Gibbs to violate his existing suspension for a previous misdemeanour with drug taking was incomprehensible and smacked of someone who thought he was beyond reproach and the game."