For a man like Danish Kaneria – with his sportsman spirit and unbeatable hope – the treatment he has received is not deterring him from seeking justice against the accusations leveled on him.  To understand what has caused Kaneria to come to this point, we need to go back to 2010 when his cricketing career began to fall.  It was an Essex County Cricketer, Mervyn Westfield who was convicted of spot-fixing.  He in turn, on advice of his counsel, gave out Kaneria’s name as an instigator to make him accept bribes from a bookie.  Kaneria didn’t see this coming.  In April, 2010 the media brought to his knowledge about his involvement in the scandal.  According to him, he immediately contacted Pakistan Cricket Board management, but they refused to lend him any support.  Left to his own devices, he flew to England to face the allegations that were leveled against him, while he was still in contract with the Essex County Cricket.

What followed is questionable and was never brought to light.  The police had called Kaneria for an interview, after which he was allowed to go without any condition of a bail because nothing could be proved against him. The misperception relayed by the media that he was “arrested” over the scandal was a first big blow to his reputation. Things from there started going in a downward spiral for him.

The wavering allegations placed by Westfield on him was of him “corrupting” him  by making him accept bribes for spot-fixing. On negative media hype, the English Cricket Board sent him a letter saying he cannot play for them for his bad reputation in media.  This was contested by Kaneria’s counsel, and convinced ECB that could not legally stop him from playing for Essex County Cricket.  On pressures from ECB, the Essex police  probed  the matter for five long months, and ultimately gave a “No Further Action” letter issued to him, letting him go as a clean man.  At the same time, Mervyn Westfield was officially charged for the act by the Essex Police.

In 2010, Kaneria was to join his team in Dubai for its match against South Africa, but at the 11th hour, he received a call from PCB stopping him from leaving because of non-clearance issues from ECB and the ICC.  PCB then intimated an Integrity Committee to probe the matter.  At the time, Kaneria was issued a clearance certificate from ICC which he submitted to PCB Committee, but he did not get clearance from ECB for the technical reason of not being under their contract by that time.  The PCB, however, didn’t give him the clearance citing his failure to provide them the police interview tapes. According to Kaneria, the PCB’s lawyers already knew that attaining the video tapes would not be possible because of ongoing investigation and court proceedings on Westfield at that time; hence this requirement was put in to deliberately ban him from playing at both local and international level. Kaneria submitted a request to the PCB for a review of his case, but to no avail.   

In 2012, Westfield was finally convicted of the charge of spot-fixing by the British Court.  He was sentenced to three months for his action, and was subsequently allowed to play upon his release.  The statements and testimonies of Westfield were inconsistent and based on lies, which could not be accepted as proof provided to Westfield in ECB Disciplinary Panel and in the court. The ECB filed a case in the British Court, to further scrutinize Kaneria, but this time Westfield refused to appear as a witness.  The case couldn’t be further proceeded in the court and Kaneria was asked not to pursue the matter  any further because  it was no longer required.  His defence was not heard, leaving him helpless in clearing his name.  Last year, the ECB filed a case in Sindh High Court against Kaneria for the recovery of  all the legal costs  incurred on him, which he is unable to pay.  This case is still pending to this date.

In Pakistan, we have our own convicted players who were allowed to resume their cricket careers.  But why is it that Kaneria, a world-class and hardworking player, has been denied the scrutiny at home to determine truth.  And more importantly, why has the PCB completely remained aloof of the case which Kaneria had to face in UK on his own? The case of Kaneria should be taken up on merit.  Implicating him for corruption on mere verbal accusation raises many a question about this matter right from the start and up until now. Kaneria, a Hindu by faith, should not be disallowed from local cricket because of his religion.  In fact, his presence in the cricket field could have been more valuable for our cricket team. 

Ramish Jaipal, a Hindu political leader, has also expressed his concerns and is fighting against this gross justice.  According to him, diversity in the cricket could have been positive for PCB, but unfortunately, it appears that PCB allowed him to be humiliated by Board and the media.

Danish Kaneria’s case should be seen as a classic example of how one has been denied justice by confusing him in a quagmire of legal complexities he has to face as a layman. Most importantly, he was never given a chance to be heard.  With almost no income to support himself and his family, the distress of Kaneria is beyond our comprehension. Instead of standing by him with support and respect, he has been insulted and dragged to the courts for a crime that could never be proved. The damaged career aside, he regrets the loss of dignity as a cricketer more, but despite everything, it is the hope for justice that he clings to.

“If it were some other player in my case, he would have committed suicide by now.  But I am hopeful that tides will go in my favor ultimately and I am never going to give up on it” says Kaneria.