'Liar' Kaneria banned for life over spot-fixing


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The Independent Online

Former Pakistan player Danish Kaneria was yesterday described as a "grave danger to the game of cricket" and banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of "cajoling and pressurising" Mervyn Westfield to engage in spot fixing. In a damning judgement delivered by the England and Wales Cricket Board disciplinary panel, Kaneria was branded a liar and identified as a key instigator of a spot-fix that ended with Westfield becoming the first English player to be jailed for such an offence.

Kaneria was found guilty on two charges, including bringing the game into disrepute, after a four-day hearing in London. Westfield, who was sentenced in February to four months in prison, pleaded guilty to one charge and was banned for five years. "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," said a statement from the panel.

Kaneria follows Hansie Cronje, Mohammad Azharuddin and Salim Malik in being given a life ban. The ban applies to all cricket around the globe and the Pakistan Cricket Board has indicated it will enforce it in its domestic competitions – in which Kaneria has been playing – as compelled to do under ICC regulations.

Westfield, who played club cricket in Essex last summer, received a lesser term because he was pressured by Kaneria, committed the offence before the player-education programmes were introduced, pleaded guilty, aided the prosecution and has promised to help fight corruption.

The panel, made up of the former England player Jamie Dalrymple, David Gabbitass, vice-chairman of Somerset, and Gerard Elias QC, rejected Kaneria's evidence that he had nothing to do with his then Essex team-mate Westfield agreeing to concede 12 runs from an over in a Pro40 match against Durham in 2009. Its judgement ruled: "We consider that in many respects the evidence of Danish Kaneria simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is plainly lies."

Kaneria denied setting Westfield up to spot-fix for Arun Bhatt, an illegal bookmaker whom Kaneria had been warned against associating with by ICC anti-corruption officials a year earlier.

The panel was "left in no doubt" that Kaneria sought to recruit fixers for Bhatt – other Essex players were approached – took advantage of a vulnerable young man, was present at a meeting in a Durham hotel with Westfield and the two fixers before the match and that it was in Kaneria's car, in a Chelmsford car park around midnight after the players had returned from Durham, that Westfield was paid £6,000 by the two men.

Westfield was charged by police in November 2010 but Kaneria never was as the Crown Prosecution Service did not believe there was sufficient evidence to secure a criminal conviction. But when Westfield, who belatedly changed his plea to guilty, was sentenced at the Old Bailey earlier this year Kaneria was named in court as the then 21-year-old's alleged corrupter.

Kaneria will appeal against the ECB's decision.