Former Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria has admitted his guilt in the spot-fixing case involving former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield, more than six years after he was banned for life by the ECB.
"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," Kaneria, 37, told Al Jazeera. "I have become strong enough to make this decision, because you cannot live a life with lies."
Westfield, 23 at the time, had admitted to accepting £6000 in return for conceding a set number of runs off an over in a Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009. He was jailed after pleading guilty to the charge of accepting or obtaining corrupt payments. Kaneria, who was arrested along with Westfield in 2010 only for charges to be dropped due to a lack of evidence, was alleged to have been the go-between between Westfield and Anu Bhatt, who was on the ICC radar for being a person involved in illegal betting.
Kaneria had protested his innocence in the matter several times over the years and appealed repeatedly - and unsuccessfully - to have his life ban revoked. Though he was banned by the ECB, the ICC's anti-corruption code states that decisions based on a board's regulations should be upheld by boards around the world.
In the Al Jazeera interview, Kaneria said he had met Bhatt four years before the Essex game for which he and Westfield came under scrutiny. "In 2005 on a West Indies tour, my assistant manager introduced me to Anu Bhatt, because he was a Hindu and he was a cricket fan," Kaneria, who was the only Hindu in the Pakistan team at the time, said. "Then we were on a India tour and over there, 2008 it was I think, Anu Bhatt invited the whole team for dinner, so me and my wife and other cricketers went to his house for the dinner."
Kaneria admitted to ignoring warnings from the ICC's ACU that Bhatt was a "suspicious guy". "[ACU] Came to Pakistan and told several cricketers and me that he is a suspicious guy and is involved in doing fixing," he said. "I regret very much, I didn't complain to the higher authorities, like English Cricket Board or ICC unit. I didn't inform or didn't tell them this guy is over here [in the UK].
"Mervyn used to tell me that he wants to become a rich cricketer. I was highly paid in Essex, and I was an international player at that time. And I was living a life, a very lavish life, so he also wanted to make money. I think he was targeted by Anu Bhatt and I think he fell into that temptation. Being an international cricketer and a senior cricketer, I should have taken it one step higher of telling Mervyn that this guy is suspicious.
"I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan. 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."
Kaneria said that part of the reason he maintained his innocence at the time was that his father - who died of cancer in 2013 - had been in poor health. "His health was getting worse and worse," Kaneria said. "I didn't have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country."
Kaneria played 61 Tests for Pakistan between 2000 and 2010 and took 261 wickets at an average of 34.79. He is still Pakistan's most successful spin bowler.