London: Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria said on Friday he will appeal the lifetime ban handed down to him by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for his role in a spot-fixing scandal. "I will definitely be doing an appeal. The people trust me. I'm an honest man. I've been playing cricket with passion and love. I have done nothing wrong," the 31-year-old told Sky Sports News.
Kaneria was given a life ban from English cricket on Friday for his involvement in the Mervyn Westfield spot-fixing case. Westfield was jailed for four months in February, but served two before being released in April, after admitting he accepted £6,000 ($9,346) to under-perform during a Pro40 match between Essex and Durham in 2009.
The now 24-year-old Westfield named Kaneria - arrested with him in 2010 but released without charge - as the link between bookmakers and players. And an ECB panel disciplinary panel agreed on Friday, saying: "We are left in no reasonable doubt that Danish Kaneria knowingly induced or encouraged Mervyn Westfield not to perform on his merits in the Durham match."
The panel said: "We regard Danish Kaneria as a grave danger to the game of cricket...Accordingly, we are unanimously of the view that the only appropriate sanction in relation to both [the] charges is one of suspension for life and that is the sanction we impose."
In a damning indictment of 31-year-old Kaneria, the panel added his evidence "simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is plainly lies". However, Kaneria, who has always maintained his innocence, said: "I'm very upset about this decision. For what reason they have convicted me I do not know.
"It is a very, very unfair decision against me. I've come all the way from Pakistan to say the truth. They [ECB] don't have any proof against me. I don't know why they are saying this," he added after he, along with Westfield, was punished by a three-man panel chaired by lawyer Gerard Elias and featuring retired former England one-day international cricketer Jamie Dalrymple.
Westfield was given a five-year ban for bringing cricket into disrepute, a charge the seamer accepted, although he will be able to play club cricket in the final two years of his suspension.
Kaneria's ban could signal the end of his career as the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption code requires a decision based on a member board's domestic anti-corruption rules to be recognised and respected globally.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, in a statement issued from Kuala Lumpur, where the global governing body's board is meeting this week, said: "I will ask the board to remind all members to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the sanctions imposed on both players in this case are appropriately recognised and respected outside of the ECB's domestic jurisdiction.
"The need to protect the game from corruption requires every one of us, including the players, to remain vigilant and work tirelessly to that end."
County matches have become targets for fixers now as they are televised live in Asia, where betting on cricket is illegal in several countries.
"The increased popularity and television coverage for various domestic competitions around the world requires much more than just the ICC to be vigilant and we acknowledge the ECB's efforts in this respect," Lorgat said.
Kaneria has not played for Pakistan since making the last of his 61 Test appearances against England in August 2010 - the same tour that saw the infamous spot-fixing episode in the Lord's Test, which led to the then-captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir being jailed on corruption charges.
Butt, jailed for 30 months last November on charges of accepting corrupt payments, was freed from an English prison on Thursday. Amir was released in February after serving half his six-month sentence while Asif, jailed for 12 months, was freed in May.