Karachi: Disgraced Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria caused a stir when he showed up at the inaugural Ramazan Twenty20 Cup tournament, organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board, at the National Stadium. Kaneria, however, clarified that he had only visited the stadium to meet his friends from the media and his former teammates in Habib Bank, which played here last night.
The spinner's presence clearly had the security and vigilance officer of the board present in the stadium rattled and uneasy but he showed enough respect to Kaneria and avoided any direct ejection orders from the stadium. "I don't think I am making anyone uncomfortable. I don't think the PCB should be concerned as I have only come here as a visitor and have avoided going down into the ground. I have remained in the pavilion building," he said.
But sources in the PCB said that Kaneria's appearance had surprised the PCB security and vigilance officer, a former ISI operative, and he had called up high officials in the board to get instructions on the line of action. "But apparently Colonel Azhar was told to not directly confront Kaneria on his coming to the stadium and he later also invited the player for a cup of tea in his camp office," the source said.
Kaneria has been banned for life by the England and Wales Cricket Board for his involvement in trying to coax and encourage his fellow players at English county Essex to do spot fixing and was branded a grave danger to the sport by the ECB disciplinary panel. The leg spinner has also been ordered to pay 200,000 pounds in cost for the ECB hearings.
Following the ECB decision, the PCB also imposed life ban on Kaneria in Pakistan, which means he cannot take part in any cricket activity in the country or use the facilities of the board. Kaneria, speaking to the media, said he was not in a position to pay anything to the ECB and his lawyers were looking into the matter.
"I am innocent and my case is wrongly being mixed up with that of Salman Butt, (Mohammad) Asif and (Mohammad) Amir. They were caught red handed in spot fixing and were in jail. As far as my case is concerned the Essex police investigated me and didn't file any charges against me for lack of evidence. Secondly, the ban is not imposed on me by any court but the ECB panel, which I felt was biased."
Kaneria, who played 61 Tests, insisted that he wanted the PCB to hold its own inquiry and review the whole case. "I want the PCB to look at the evidence, which the ECB claims to have against me and decide whether this life ban is justified," he said. Kaneria said he was consulting his lawyers and also had the final resort of approaching the courts in Pakistan and UK to seek justice against the ECB and also the PCB.