New Zealand cricket great Chris Cairns in intensive care in Sydney

Sport

The former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns is in intensive care at a Sydney hospital after suffering a life-threatening health problem.

The 51-year-old had surgery in Canberra for a reported aortic dissection – a tear in the body’s main artery – but was transferred to St Vincent’s hospital on Tuesday night. A spokesperson for St Vincent’s on Wednesday said Cairns was in a “serious but stable condition”.

Support for a player regarded as one of the best all-rounders of the 1990s included the former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum, who was a young member of the squad during Cairns’s most senior days.

“It’s a difficult subject to talk about,” McCullum said on his SEN breakfast show. “We haven’t seen each other for quite a long time.”

McCullum testified against Cairns in court before the latter was found not guilty in 2015 of charges relating to alleged match-fixing.

“We’ve been reflecting on just how fine a cricketer he was when the news came through and what he did for the game and New Zealand cricket throughout his career as well.

“Our relationship is unimportant in the whole thing. Chris is a father and also a son to Lance and Sue. They’ve already had such tragedy in their life with the loss of Chris’s sister a long time ago.”

Cairns played 62 Tests, 215 ODIs and two Twenty20 matches for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006. His father, Lance, also represented New Zealand.

Cairns has lived in Canberra for several years after his marriage to an Australian, Melanie Croser, in 2010. She said: “Chris’s family and friends are heartened by the respectful and warm manner in which this terrible news has been reported, and received by the public, both in New Zealand and around the world, and thanks everyone for their warm wishes, prayers and kind words.”

After retiring from international cricket, Cairns was the subject of allegations of match-fixing as captain of the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League in 2008.

He denied any wrongdoing and fought several legal battles to clear his name, winning a libel case against the former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi in 2012.

In 2015, he was cleared of perjury in London in relation to the libel case.