Kaneria takes PCB to court over non-clearance
Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan legspinner, has taken his battle with the PCB to court, filing a petition on Saturday at the Sindh High Court in Karachi against his continued non-clearance by the board's integrity committee. Kaneria has not been cleared for selection to Pakistan's Test side since last October when, following the fall-out from the Lord's spot-fixing scandal and his own entanglement in a corruption case in Essex, the PCB tightened up its anti-corruption programme.
"I have been dealing with the PCB over my clearance since last October and I have not gotten any justice from them," Kaneria told ESPNcricinfo. "I have now come to the legal system and I hope to see justice done here." The first hearing of the petition will be held on July 4.
Kaneria's case is a particularly complex one as it happened outside his duties for Pakistan; that it happened while he was playing for Essex has meant several jurisdictions are involved, including the club, the local police, and the ECB and ICC. He was questioned by police in relation to an investigation believed to centre around a Pro40 win against Durham and spot-betting on wides and no-balls during the match, but was not charged; former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield has been charged in the same case.
But Kaneria's problems began after the PCB set up an integrity committee constituted specifically to deal with such issues in the aftermath of the Lord's Test. Having been selected for the Test squad to face South Africa in the UAE last October, he was suddenly stopped by the board from travelling on the day of his departure and then withdrawn from the squad.
Kaneria has since appeared before the integrity committee, submitting details of bank accounts, property holdings and other financial information, and has been asked to provide clearances from various bodies. He has since submitted communications from the ICC, Essex police and the county indicating that he has been cleared, but the PCB has refused to accept the email from the county as the 'clearance certificate' it wants.
Kaneria tried to go down the legal route earlier, calling over his lawyer from the UK to try and meet the PCB, but the board refused to do so. Since then the situation has been stuck in an impasse with the integrity committee refusing to accept the email from Essex, which has finally prompted Kaneria to go down the path players such as Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi have, taking the board to court.
"The case is that the British police, the ICC and Essex county all have not charged Kaneria with any wrongdoing," Kaneria's lawyer Mohammad Farogh Naseem told ESPNcricinfo. "Why then is his career being ruined? We are not saying select him, because that is up to performance and the board, but he has to be cleared to be considered for selection at the very least."
If issued a notice on Monday, the board's legal advisor Taffazul Rizvi said they will appear. "We will help the court in any and every respect, and whatever order is passed has to be implemented in letter and spirit," he told ESPNcricinfo. It is likely the board could again raise legal objections about the maintainability of the petition, as they did in the case against Afridi; that is, they will argue the case should be heard in Lahore High Court, the city where the PCB is headquartered.
Interestingly enough, there has been no bar on Kaneria playing domestic cricket where he turned out last season for his employers Habib Bank Limited in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and for Karachi Zebras in limited-overs games. This apparent contradiction - that he is cleared to play domestically but not internationally - is likely to form one plank of Kaneria's arguments.
Until last year, Kaneria had been Pakistan's leading spinner since 2003 and a near-permanent name in the Test XI. After winning a virtual spin-off with Mushtaq Ahmed in the South Africa series in October 2003, he played in 49 of Pakistan's 54 Tests till his last one, which was against England at Trent Bridge in July 2010. Kaneria has taken 261 wickets in 61 Tests, the most by a Pakistan spinner and comfortably the most by any contemporary bowler in the country.
"My only priority is to play for Pakistan again," Kaneria said. "I don't want to play outside, I just want to represent Pakistan once again and I believe I am capable of doing that."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo