Former Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria has admitted to have been complicit in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked England during the 2009 County season. Six years after being handed a life ban by an ECB anti-corruption tribunal, Kaneria confessed his wrongdoing in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.The revelations, obtained by Sportsmail, involve Kaneria tendering an unconditional apology to his former Essex teammate Mervyn Westfield, who served a two-month jail sentence for indulging in the malpractice.
The Al Jazeera interview begins with Kaneria's confession: "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.
"I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan. "
Kaneria, whose international cricket career came to a halt after the scandal broke out in English county cricket in September 2009, was found guilty of corruption and cheating. In its verdict, the tribunal had said that Kaneria posed a "grave danger to the sport" and said he had attempted to lure other players into spot-fixing.
The Pakistan spinner played a central role in enabling the corruption by introducing teammate Westfield to an illegal bookmaker Anu Bhatt. Westfield accepted GBP 6000 to concede 12 runs in his first over in a Pro-40 game against Durham in 2009. He ended up conceding only 10 but nevertheless took the payment offering.
Kaneria, who was arrested alongside Westfield, had his charges dropped against him due to a lack of evidence before later being implicated and sanctioned, However, he continued to deny any involvement, protesting his innocence several times over since.
Kaneria confessed to meeting with Bhatt four years before the events of 2009 transpired. "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/ 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.
"The ACU came to Pakistan and told several cricketers and me that he is a suspicious guy and is involved in doing fixing. I regret 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.
"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. "
In the interview, Kaneria also came clean on his constant proclamations of honesty, stating that he covered up his wrongdoings to protect his ailing father - who lost his battle with Cancer in 2013.
"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.
"Now I have become strong enough to make this decision, because you cannot live a life with lies. "
Kaneria, now 37, is hoping he can be granted amnesty and allowed to return to cricket in order to educate future players with their decision making. "I want to ask people's forgiveness. Cricket has given me so much in my life and I want to give something back. 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.
"There are people who will do temptation to you, but you have to be strong. Go to a right direction, rather going to a short cut and making money in a short cut. It will end them where I am at today. "
Kaneria is Pakistan's leading wicket-taker among spinners in Test cricket with 261 scalps. He played 61 Tests and 19 ODIs between 2000 and 2010.