Kaneria denies any role in spot-fixing
Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan legspinner, has denied any involvement in the "match irregularities" that Essex Police are investigating, following allegations that are believed to centre around a televised Pro40 game during the last English season.
The controversy came to light on Friday evening when a short statement confirmed a police investigation had been launched, and Kaneria's was the first name linked. He was Essex's overseas player in 2009 and is due to play for them again this season although his arrival has been delayed by a clash with the PCB's Pentangular domestic tournament.
"I was shocked when I woke up that day and saw these reports," he said. "They are totally baseless. I have always performed with all my heart and commitment for Essex and the results are there for everyone to see. I helped the side get promoted last season."
Zakir Khan, the PCB's director of cricket operations, said that Kaneria would be spared disciplinary action unless and until further evidence came to light. "I think it's very important that first these allegations are proven," Zakir told reporters at Lord's. "Then, of course, action will be taken."
Kaneria also confirmed that he plans to return to Essex once his commitments in Pakistan are complete. "For me Pakistan always comes first and I want to get back into the ODI side," he said. "I was asked to play in the Pentangular and I am going to do that before joining Essex again later."
It is understood that Kaneria is seeking legal advice on how to proceed, while there are also questions being raised in official circles as to why Kaneria's name was made public so quickly, unlike the local English player involved.
The inquiry is based on spot-fixing, which unlike traditional match-fixing (where the end result is the important aspect), is based on betting around small moments within a match, for example how many runs will come off a certain over, or how many no-balls or wides will be sent down. There is the potential for these elements of a game to be manipulated with the final result being unaffected.
Sources close to the investigation have told Cricinfo that anyone found guilty would face "very serious punishments" but the concern for the game is how to crack down on the illegal betting market in an era of satellite television and easy internet access.
Any county game that is shown on television in the UK is also available in India and Pakistan and that opens the way for the illegal market of betting, which is still believed to be rife on the subcontinent despite extensive attempts to clean up the game in the wake of the Hansie Cronje scandal in 2000.
However, despite the links to the subcontinent, the source said a strong UK-based involvement shouldn't be ruled out.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo, Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor