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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Former Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria lied to ECB, Essex and supporters

But Ian Oxborrow knew what type of character he was dealing with after leg-spinner had denied telling him of his interest in switching allegiance to England Test team

Former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria played for Essex in the English county circuit. EMPICS Sport
Former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria played for Essex in the English county circuit. EMPICS Sport

Danish Kaneria and I sat down on the wooden benches in front of the pavilion at Essex’s headquarters in Chelmsford during the summer of 2008.

He was, at this point, popular among the local fans for his match-winning performances and the mystical aura that some successful leg-spinners carry on the cricket pitch.

He wasn’t happy however with how his career was panning out having been discarded from Pakistan’s national team.

Among the questions about form, opponents and the future, I asked him whether he would consider switching allegiance to England should Pakistan continue to overlook his obvious talents which saw him become his country’s most successful spinner with 261 Test wickets in Tests.

England, of course, have always been without a decent leg-spinner, and Kaneria felt he deserved better than being on the Test scrapheap as he approached his prime.

His response came as a surprise - indeed he would be interested in representing England if he met the necessary criteria and Pakistan didn’t require him anymore.

I later contacted the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to find out the requirements for such a switch in international cricket, and then wrote what was clearly a strong story.

A few hours after it was published on the internet, the phone rang. It was the Essex press officer.

“Danish says he didn’t say any of that about potentially playing for England. He says either retract the comments or he won’t speak to you again.”

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Read more:

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Unsurprisingly, Kaneria’s comments were not well received in Pakistan. How dare he want to play for another country was the consensus among the cricket-mad nation.

So, in a swift about-turn, it was the reporter’s fault - he had made the whole story up according to Kaneria.

Now however, it has been made clear to the whole world that Kaneria has a problem telling the truth.

It was he who had always denied being involved in a spot-fixing case in 2009 which saw his Essex teammate Mervyn Westfield end up serving four months in prison.

The ECB eventually banned Kaneria for life in 2012 for "cajoling and pressurising" Westfield into accepting money.

Still Kaneria insisted he did no wrong.

Until now, six years later, he has finally decided to speak out.

"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," the 37-year-old player told Al Jazeera.

"I have become strong enough to make this decision, because you cannot live a life with lies.”

He continued to play for Essex after the incident, surrounded by teammates who were sure of his guilt. Imagine what that must have been like in the dressing room.

He lied to the ECB, and lied to his club and supporters.

Some of us though already knew what type of character we were dealing with.