London, England – A former Pakistan cricket star has confessed to his role in a spot-fixing scandal in England, after denying it for six years.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, Danish Kaneria admits he induced a teammate at Essex County Cricket Club to underperform for money paid by a notorious bookmaker.
Kaneria, Pakistan’s most successful Test spin bowler, was banned from the sport for life by cricket authorities in 2012, but until now, has always protested his innocence.
In the television confession, he says: “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.”
He adds: “I have become strong enough to make this decision because you cannot live a life with lies.”
Kaneria, 37, expresses remorse for his actions and apologises for letting down his team, country, fans and family.
His failure to tell cricket authorities about the bookmaker’s approach was “the biggest mistake of my life … I regret it from the bottom of my heart,” he says.
Kaneria’s confession is the latest development in Al Jazeera’s two-year investigation into corruption in cricket.
The documentary, Cricket’s Match Fixers, which was released earlier this year, rocked the sport. A follow-up film, due to be aired on October 21, 2018, contains more explosive revelations.
Kaneria was banned after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) investigated claims of spot-fixing during a county championship match between Durham and Essex in 2009.
He was found guilty of attempting to induce Essex teammate Mervyn Westfield to underperform and bringing the game into disrepute.
Westfield admitted corruption and was jailed for four months and suspended for five years in 2012. He had agreed to underperform for a payment of 6,000 British pounds ($7,860).
Kaneria, who played 61 Test matches and took 276 international wickets, had two appeals rejected.
The Pakistani spin bowler, a member of the Hindu minority in Pakistan, says he regrets introducing Westfield to the Indian bookie Anu Bhatt at a nightclub in Essex.
“Mervyn used to tell me that he wants to become a rich cricketer,” Kaneria says.
“I was highly paid in Essex County and I was an international player at that time. I was living a very lavish life, so he also wanted to make money.”
“I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex teammates, Essex Cricket club and the fans … to Pakistan and my fans around the world. And to my wife and family – I have let them all down.
“I was the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan at that time. I was making good money all around the world.
“It’s been six years. I lost my friends … respect from the fans. I lost everything.”
Kaneria was introduced to Bhatt during a tour of the West Indies in 2005.
In 2008, during a tour of India, Bhatt invited the Pakistan team for dinner. “My wife and other cricketers went to his house,” Kaneria says.
An anti-corruption investigator at the International Cricket Council (ICC), world cricket’s governing body, warned Pakistan’s players to stay away from Bhatt and Kaneria says he regrets ignoring that advice.
Kaneria says his father was dying of cancer when the spot-fixing scandal broke and he could not bring himself to admit to the ECB charges at the time.
“His health was getting worse and worse. I didn’t have the courage to face him and tell him that I had done wrong. He was so proud of me and it would have caused him a lot of suffering.”
Kaneria hopes his lifetime ban will be lifted so he can help young cricketers avoid the temptations of match-fixers.
“I want to ask for people’s forgiveness,” he says. “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.”
The latest film, Cricket’s Match Fixers: The Munawar Files, can be viewed on Al Jazeera at the following times:
Sunday, October 21 – 20:00 GMT
Monday, October 22 – 06:00 GMT
Tuesday, October 23 – 01:00 GMT
Wednesday, October 24 – 12:00 GMT
Thursday, October 25 – 06:00 GMT
Friday, October 26 – 01:00 GMT
Saturday, October 27 – 20:00 GMT
Sunday, October 28 – 12:00 GMT