Stevens opens up about ‘brutal’ corruption investigation

"I don't want anybody to go through what I actually went through over those two years"

“I don’t want anybody to go through what I actually went through over those two years”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens has opened up about how be became involved in a “brutal” anti-corruption investigation while playing in the 2013 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

The investigation led to Stevens being charged for failing to report an approach by a bookie.

However, Stevens was cleared by a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) anti-corruption tribunal in February last year.

By the end of the investigation, former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful had been banned for eight years after he admitted to being involved in match-fixing.

In addition to Ashraful, Dhaka Gladiators managing director Shihab Chowdhury was banned for 10 years for match-fixing. Former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent and Sri Lanka batsman Kaushal Lokuarachchi were also banned for failing to report being approached by a bookie.

Once the investigation was brought to a close, Stevens appeared in a DVD that was produced by the PCA, in which he talks about how the allegations against him almost destroyed his cricket career.

In one part of the DVD, Stevens reveals how the owner of the Gladiators asked him to captain the side in a match against Chittagong. However, Stevens refused once he learnt that Ashraful would “run the game on the pitch”.

Just a short while after that, Stevens was contacted by Alan Peacock of the International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption unit.

The DVD will now be shown to all county players ahead of the upcoming domestic season.

“Over the phone, he said to me: ‘Can we have a meeting about Bangladesh?’ It wasn’t too bad at the start but then it got worse and worse and worse,” Stevens said. “When I got two charges through, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, it was brutal. The next meeting was a four-and-a-half hour meeting in London. After that, it was hours and hours and hours of meetings with my lawyer going through everything, going through how the next six months up to the trial were probably going to pan out.

“The trial in Bangladesh was in a small room in a bank with cameras everywhere: all different lawyers from all over the place in the same room. You just felt claustrophobic. I was there for nearly four weeks, five days a week in court going through everything. Just sitting there in court was more nervewracking than anything I have ever done.

“I was on the stand for seven hours, five hours on the day and two-and-half hours on the morning. It was really hard. Cricket is my life and has been for 25 to 30 years. Every day that I was playing, it just felt like it was going to be my last game.”

Stevens now hopes that by talking about his experience, his fellow county cricketers will report being approached by bookies right away.

“It was horrific. Because I didn’t report at that time a suspicious act I have gone through hell over the last two years,” he said. “There are so many opportunities around the world now and if Bangladesh did come back up again I would not stop anyone going and playing out there. I would encourage them to go and play.

“But I don’t want anybody to go through what I actually went through over those two years. In any of these tournaments anywhere around the world if you do come across anything suspicious just report it immediately.”

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