A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Danish Kaneria receives life ban for match-fixing

Kaneria is thought to be the mastermind of the whole match-fixing scandal

Former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria has been banned for life by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for match-fixing.

Kaneria, was found to be guilty on the charge of corruption by a disciplinary panel and was given the life ban to be made an example of.

Mervyn Westfield, who is a pace bowler for Essex, was also found to be involved in the match-fixing scandal with Kaneria, and was given a five-year ban after pleading guilty.

However, Westfield will be allowed to play club cricket after serving three years of his ban.

With a life ban handed down on Kaneria, many people within the cricketing community believe his career will come to an end.

But, even though the sentence was handed down by the ECB, the International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption code states that a decision given by a domestic board has to be upheld by the boards around the world as well, which in this case would include the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), who have mentioned that they will conduct their own hearing into the case.

Former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “It is opportune that the ICC Board meets this week in Kuala Lumpur and I will ask the Board to remind all members to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the sanctions imposed on both players in this case are appropriately recognised and respected outside of the ECB’s domestic jurisdiction.”

The PCB, also issued a statement which noted that they will honour any sanctions handed down by the ECB on Kaneria.

When handing down the sentence, chairman of the ECB’s cricket discipline commission Gerard Elias, said: “We regard Danish Kaneria as a grave danger to the game of cricket and we must take every appropriate step to protect our game from his corrupt activities.”

Elias, also noted that Kaneria was aware of the things he was doing since he was a senior player, and decided that the sentence should be harsh in order to stop any more match-fixing scandals in the future.

“As a senior international player of repute he plainly betrayed the trust reposed in him in his dealings with fellow team-mates and we regard his persistent efforts to recruit spot fixers as being a seriously aggravating factor in his case,” Elias said.

In regards to Westfield, Elias noted that if he had committed the offence in 2012, he would have been banned for nine years.

“Let no one underestimate the seriousness of failing to perform – or agreeing so to do – on ones merits,” Elias said. “We bear in mind the fact that his conduct occurred in 2009, that he was targeted and pressurised by a senior team-mate. To the ECB’s charge he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and is entitled to significant credit for that,” Elias added.

The ECB also issued a statement on the sentences given out, that said: “ECB welcomes today’s decisions by the disciplinary panel following the hearing held in London. This sends a very clear message to everyone involved in the sport that corrupt activities will not be tolerated and those individuals who are alleged to have breached the ECB’s anti-corruption regulations will be fully investigated and where appropriate made subject to the full ECB disciplinary process.”

Both Kaneria and Westfield were charged in April when Westfield told the London Central Criminal Court that Kaneria had been involved in the match-fixing scandal, which Kaneria denied having any knowledge of.

During the four day ECB hearing, Westfield gave evidence to implicate Kaneria, revealing details on how the former Pakistan leg-spinner introduced him to an Indian businessman named Arun or Anu Bhatt.

Kaneria, admitted that he had introduced Westfield to Bhatt, even though he had been warned about Bhatt’s connections to illegal betting, but also stated that he had been trying to distance himself from the Indian businessman.

However, contrary to Kaneria’s claims, phone records show that there was extensive contact between Kaneria and Bhatt in the days leading up to the September 2009 Pro40 match, in which Westfield was paid to under-perform in.

Upon hearing the evidence, the disciplinary panel, which included David Gabbitass and former England all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple, concluded: “Danish Kaneria knowingly induced or encouraged Mervyn Westfield not to perform on his merits in the Durham match.”

The disciplinary panel were also very skeptical about the evidence Kaneria had, and said: “We consider that in many respects the evidence of Danish Kaneria simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is plainly lies.”

As noted during the trial, Kaneria approached Westfield and offered him the opportunity to make a lot of money in a short period of time.

“You are young and it is hard to make money; I have a way that you can make money quicker,” Kaneria told Westfield.

The pair had met with two “Asian businessmen” and after meeting with them at an Essex nightclub and hotel, Westfield agreed to give away a certain amount of runs off an over.

Kaneria, had been warned about Bhatt in the past by the ICC’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) in 2008 since he Bhatt was found to be “heavily involved in illegal betting”.

The panel had no doubt that one of the two “Asian businessmen” Westfield talked about was Arun or Anu Bhatt.

“There is no doubt – and no suggestion to the contrary – that one of the Asian men referred to by Westfield was Anu Bhatt, indeed, Danish Kaneria admits introducing Westfield to Bhatt in Dukes nightclub and confirms in his evidence that Bhatt was in Durham and attended the match with tickets obtained by Kaneria for him,” the panel said.

Some of Kaneria’s other Essex team-mates also gave provided evidence that the former Pakistan leg-spinner had “sought to instigate discussion about spot or match fixing”.

When summing up all the evidence given on Kaneria’s involvement in the match-fixing scandal, the panel said: “We utterly reject his account of the telephone calls and texts to and from Anu Bhatt during the vital days in question. Analysis of the length, sequence and timing of these calls simply does not permit of the innocent explanations given by Kaneria. If, as we find, he is lying about these calls and texts, there can only be one logical reason – to tell the truth would be damning. Further, we reject as nonsensical Kaneria’s claim that his invitation to Bhatt to attend Dukes nightclub was in order to keep him at arm’s length or similarly that obtaining tickets for him in Durham was with the same object. Again, we have no doubt that to tell the truth would implicate Kaneria as the link in the chain between Westfield and Bhatt … We reject his basic account that he had nothing to do with any arrangement between Westfield and Bhatt – indeed we are sure that he facilitated it.”

Westfield was jailed for four months after admitting that he deliberately underperformed during the Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009.

In regard to Westfield, the ECB disciplinary panel said: “In summary, we are satisfied that in September 2009 he was both vulnerable and naïve – relatively unworldly and unsophisticated. He may well have been going through a phase of self doubt and anxiety – whether objectively justified or not – about his cricketing future.”

The panel also went on to say that they believed Westfield was “plainly telling the truth”.

Westfield will be allowed to play club cricket after three years, but will remain banned from any level of county cricket for the remaining two years of his five-year ban.

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