Corrupt cricketer stumped

Posted: 6th May 2014

Cricket stumpsThe High Court has ruled that a well-known cricketer, who succumbed to temptation and induced a promising young bowler to engage in ‘spot-fixing’ for gain, was justifiably banned from the professional game for life.

Former Pakistan international Danish Kaneria enjoyed a distinguished career with Essex Cricket Club before he encouraged young fast bowler Mervyn Westfield to bowl deliberately badly during his first over of a one-day match. He conceded 10 runs during the over and received £6,000 for his co-operation in the scam.

Mr Westfield later admitted his wrongdoing before the Crown Court and, following a disciplinary hearing, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) imposed a lifetime ban on Mr Kaneria on the basis that he had brought the game into disrepute. He was also ordered to contribute £100,000 towards the ECB’s legal costs.

Mr Kaneria appealed to an arbitral panel, which upheld the penalty and costs order after finding that he had ‘acted as a recruiter of spot fixers’ and had been fully aware of and encouraged the details of the corrupt arrangements that had been put to Mr Wesfield by an illegal bookmaker.

In challenging that decision on grounds of ‘serious irregularity, within the meaning of Section 68(3) of the Arbitration Act 1996, Mr Kaneria argued that the costs order was excessive and that the lifetime ban was without precedent in a spot-fixing case and ‘wholly disproportionate’.

Dismissing the appeal, the High Court noted that the panel had ‘an absolute discretion to impose any penalty within its general powers’. The panel had justifiably emphasised the ‘deliberate and planned approach’ to cheating and had viewed spot-fixing as ‘a cancer that eats at the health and very existence of the game’.

It could not be shown the panel’s conclusions of law were ‘obviously wrong or even open to serious doubt’ and, given the extent of its discretion, it would not be just or appropriate for the Court to intervene. Mr Kaneria argued that the panel’s findings strayed outside the range of permissible conclusions on the evidence. However, it was for the panel, not the Court, to determine issues of fact.