Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria has admitted to his role in the spot-fixing scandal that involved his Essex teammate Mervyn Westfield.
Kaneria made the admission to Al Jazeera, and it comes more than six years after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) banned him for life.
“My name is Danish Kaneria and I admit that I was guilty of the two charges brought against me by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2012,” Kaneria said as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “I have become strong enough to make this decision, because you cannot live a life with lies.”
Westfield, who was 23 at the time of the scandal, admitted to receiving £6,000 in order to concede a certain number of runs off an over in a Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009.
Westfield ended up being jailed for four months after pleading guilty to the charge of accepting or obtaining corrupt payments.
Kaneria was arrested at the same time as Westfield in 2010, but had the charges against him dropped due to a lack of evidence.
It is understood that the 37-year-old acted as the go-between between Westfield and Anu Bhatt, who was supposedly involved in illegal betting and was on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) radar.
While Kaneria has finally made the truth known, he previously denied his involvement in the scandal on numerous occasions and lodged numerous appeals, all of which were unsuccessful, in having his life ban overturned.
In the interview with Al Jazeera, Kaneria admitted that he met Bhatt four years before the Essex game that Westfield was caught spot-fixing in.
Kaneria revealed that his assistant manager introduced him to Bhatt, and they had something in common as both were Hindus.
At the time he first met Bhatt, Kaneria was the only Hindu player in the Pakistan team.
“In 2005 on a West Indies tour, my assistant manager introduced me to Anu Bhatt, because he was a Hindu and he was a cricket fan,” Kaneria said. “Then we were on a India tour and over there, 2008 it was I think, Anu Bhatt invited the whole team for dinner, so me and my wife and other cricketers went to his house for the dinner.”
Despite receiving warnings from the ICC about Bhatt being a “suspicious guy”, Kaneria chose to turn a deaf ear to it.
“[ACU] came to Pakistan and told several cricketers and me that he is a suspicious guy and is involved in doing fixing,” he said. “I regret [it] very much, I didn’t complain to the higher authorities, like English Cricket Board or ICC unit. I didn’t inform or didn’t tell them this guy is over here [in the UK].
“Mervyn used to tell me that he wants to become a rich cricketer. I was highly paid in Essex, and I was an international player at that time. And I was living a life, a very lavish life, so he also wanted to make money. I think he was targeted by Anu Bhatt and I think he fell into that temptation. Being an international cricketer and a senior cricketer, I should have taken it one step higher of telling Mervyn that this guy is suspicious.
“I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan. If the ECB and ICC and other bodies would give me a second chance I can help to educate young people in cricket, teach them that if you do wrong you are finished like me.”
Kaneria also conceded that he refused to admit his guilt over the years since he couldn’t face his father, who died of cancer in 2013, and tell him the truth as he was unwell.
“His health was getting worse and worse,” Kaneria said. “I didn’t have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country.”