Cricketer Kaneria gets life ban


Cricket:Former Pakistan international Danish Kaneria was today banned from English and Welsh domestic cricket for life and described as “a grave danger” to the sport following his involvement in a spot-fixing plot.

The 31-year-old was today found guilty by the England and Wales Cricket Board of “cajoling and pressurising” former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield into accepting cash in return for trying to concede a set number of runs in an over during a Pro 40 match in 2009.

“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,” the ECB’s disciplinary panel said in a statement.

“Accordingly, we are unanimously of the view that the only appropriate sanction in relation to both charges is one of suspension for life and that is the sanction we impose.”

Westfield, who admitted a charge of receiving a reward which could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute, has been suspended for five years.

In February Westfield was sentenced to four months in prison after admitting a spot-fixing charge at the Old Bailey.

Westfield will be allowed to return to club cricket in the final two years of his suspension under strict conditions to be set out in the ECB disciplinary panel’s written ruling.

The panel also warned that were Westfield to have committed the offence in 2012 - when the anti-corruption education and training programmes were in place – he would have been given a nine-year ban.

On Kaneria, the panel were damning of his actions.

“As we have found, (Kaneria’s offences) involve the deliberate corruption of a young and vulnerable player (Westfield) and, we are satisfied, various attempts to involve others in the net of corruption,” the panel statement read.

“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.

“Significant sums of money doubtless flow from corrupt activities such as those which we have examined this week, and we have no doubt that those involved in making such corrupt financial gains spare no thought either for those they corrupt or for the integrity of the game.

“Kaneria has made no admission, has shown no remorse and sought to cast blame on other plainly innocent persons.”

The ECB’s disciplinary panel found Kaneria guilty on two charges   of knowingly inducing and encouraging Westfield not to perform on his own merits in the Pro 40 match against Durham in 2009, and of bringing the game into disrepute.

The ECB panel concluded that Kaneria acted as a recruiter for Anu Bhatt, who was described in the ECB’s summary as “an Indian businessman who, prior to November 2007, had come to the notice of the Anti-Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council as allegedly being heavily involved in illegal betting”.

They concluded that Kaneria approached “a number of potential targets” at Essex and that he introduced Bhatt to Westfield with the intention that Westfield should be recruited into spot-fixing.

The panel said Kaneria put pressure on Westfield, “well knowing that he was young and vulnerable”, to concede 12 runs against Durham in return for £6,000.

Kaneria had contested the two ECB charges and was initially arrested in connection with the criminal case by Essex police but was later released without charge, and denies any wrongdoing.

The Old Bailey judge in the Westfield case did feel that Kaneria had played a role.

In sentencing Westfield in February, Judge Anthony Morris said in his written judgment: “I accept such an approach was made to you (Westfield) by Kaneria. He had been warned in 2008 by the ICC over his connections with a bookmaker, who was involved in illegal betting markets. In addition, he had made similar approaches to other Essex players who had laughed them off as a joke.”

The guilty verdicts and sanctions come just a day after former Pakistan captain Salman Butt was released from a Canterbury prison after serving seven months of a 30-month sentence for his role in spot-fixing during the 2009 tour of England.

Butt was sent to jail along with Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, who have also both since been released after serving half their sentences, after they agreed to bowl no-balls to demand during a Test match at Lord’s.

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