The England and Wales Cricket board begins the fight to uphold former Test cricketer Danish Kaneria’s lifetime ban at an appeal hearing in London today, confident that their key witness will give evidence.
In June 2012, an ECB disciplinary panel imposed the ban on the 32-year-old Kaneria, who took 261 wickets in 61 Tests for Pakistan, after finding him guilty of inducing then Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield to under-perform in a one-day match in 2009. Westfield, 24, was jailed for four months on corruption charges and banned from the first-class game for five years – and all cricket for three – by the ECB. It was a punishment he felt unduly severe, particularly as he co-operated with the investigation, pleaded guilty and was the ECB’s key witness against Kaneria. After his release from prison, Westfield severed all contact with the ECB and has been reluctant to appear at the appeal hearing on their behalf.
However, earlier this month, the High Court issued Westfield with a witness summons compelling him to appear at today’s hearing. The ECB were negotiating with the former Essex player last week over a potential clemency deal, and have been told that if Westfield fails to appear, he will be in contempt of court.
Kaneria’s lawyers insist that without Westfield’s evidence the ECB “has no case” and if his appeal is upheld they will claim “very substantial damages” for loss of earnings and reputation.