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Stevens talks of 'brutal' corruption tangle

Darren Stevens has spoken openly for the first time about the circumstances that caused him to become embroiled in the Bangladesh anti-corruption enquiry which saw Mohammad Ashraful banned for eight years

Darren Stevens has spoken openly for the first time about the circumstances that caused him to become embroiled in the Bangladesh anti-corruption enquiry which saw their former captain Mohammad Ashraful banned for eight years.
Stevens, one of county cricket's longest-serving players, was charged with failing to report an alleged suspicious approach while he was playing in the Bangladesh Premier League two years ago.
He was cleared by a Bangladesh Cricket Board anti-corruption tribunal in February last year but with the assistance of the Professional Cricketers Association he is now warning fellow professionals to report the merest hint of wrongdoing to avoid the "brutal" experience which threatened his future as a professional cricketer.
Dhaka Gladiators' managing director Shihab Chowdhury was banned for fixing, with former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent and Sri Lanka batsman Kaushal Lokuarachchi banned for not reporting a bookmaker's approach.
Stevens, the Kent allrounder, has now appeared in a DVD, produced by the PCA, which will be shown to all county players before the start of the new domestic season as part of an updated anti-corruption code.
He tells how he was playing for the Dhaka Gladiators when he was asked by the owner if he would captain the side in a match against Chittagong but that Mohammad Ashraful would still "run the game on the pitch". Stevens refused and was later contact by Alan Peacock of the ICC anti-corruption unit.
He relates: "Over the phone, he said to me: 'Can we have a meeting about Bangladesh?' It wasn't too bad at the start but then it got worse and worse and worse.
"When I got two charges through, I wouldn't wish it on anybody, it was brutal. The next meeting was a four-and-a-half hour meeting in London. After that, it was hours and hours and hours of meetings with my lawyer going through everything, going through how the next six months up to the trial were probably going to pan out.
"The trial in Bangladesh was in a small room in a bank with cameras everywhere: all different lawyers from all over the place in the same room. You just felt claustrophobic. I was there for nearly four weeks, five days a week in court going through everything. Just sitting there in court was more nervewracking than anything I have ever done.
"I was on the stand for seven hours, five hours on the day and two-and-half hours on the morning. It was really hard. Cricket is my life and has been for 25 to 30 years. Every day that I was playing, it just felt like it was going to be my last game."
The former Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield was jailed for his involvement in spot-fixing, but after his release he participated in a comprehensive education and awareness initiative for the PCA.
Stevens, too, hopes that talking about his experiences will help other players to appreciate the implications of failing to report any suspicious approach immediately.
"It was horrific. Because I didn't report at that time a suspicious act I have gone through hell over the last two years," he said. "There are so many opportunities around the world now and if Bangladesh did come back up again I would not stop anyone going and playing out there. I would encourage them to go and play.
"But I don't want anybody to go through what I actually went through over those two years. In any of these tournaments anywhere around the world if you do come across anything suspicious just report it immediately."