Pakistan star leggie Danish Kaneria has spent the past six years denying any involvement in the corruption scandal that sent an Essex teammate to jail but has finally admitted his guilt and is asking for his lifetime ban to be lifted.
The Daily Mail reports that its Sportsmail team has seen a preview of a ‘breathtakingly honest interview’ between Al Jazeera’s investigative unit and Kaneria, in which the star cricketer offers an apology to Westfield, asks for forgiveness and begs the ECB to lift the lifetime ban they slapped on him in 2012.
‘I have become strong enough to make this decision, because you cannot live a life with lies,’ Kaneria reportedly says during the interview.
Kaneria offered his apology to Westfield – then a ‘naive 21-year-old with a promising career ahead of him’ – for introducing his teammate to Anu Bhatt without warning him that Bhatt was involved in illegal betting. Kaneria himself had been informed of Bhatt’s activities in 2008 by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
‘Being an international cricketer and a senior cricketer, I should have taken it one step higher of telling Mervyn that this guy is suspicious,’ revealed Kaneria, who was not prosecuted as there was allegedly not enough evidence to convict him.
‘I lost my friends, the respect which I used to get from the cricketing fans. I lost everything. I want to ask people’s forgiveness. Cricket has given me so much in my life and I want to give something back,’ added Kaneria.
Westfield endured two months in a London jail following his guilty plea.
‘This whole chapter of spot-fixing changed my life, but I have never blamed anyone for the terrible mistake I made,’ Westfield told Sportsmail in an interview on Wednesday. ‘However, opening up about my wrongdoing and telling the truth allowed me to move on. I hope that Danish finds peace and closure by doing this, and I wish him all the best for the future.’
Westfield pleaded guilty to having accepted a payment of £6,000 from Bhatt in 2009, in exchange for which he agreed to concede 12 runs in the first over of a 40-over game for Essex against Durham in 2009. Westfield only conceded 10 runs in the over but nonetheless took the cash on offer.
Kaneria offered some advice to other cricketers based on his experience.
‘There are people who will do temptation to you, but you have to be strong. Go to a right direction, rather than going to a shortcut and making money in a shortcut. It will end them where I am at today,’ said Kaneria.
The authorities banned Westfield from professional cricket for five years, after which he failed to return to the upper levels of the game. The 30-year-old now works as a scaffolder in the construction industry.