Kaneria in match-fixing scandal, Essex police to question leggie

Kaneria in match-fixing scandal, Essex police to question leggie

British newspaper The Sun reported Saturday that Kaneria and another Essex player are to be probed following incidents in one-day matches last summer. The Pakistan star is missing the start of the season with his county - the official reason being he is playing in a domestic tournament at home.

Essex police said that they had been asked to investigate "match irregularities" but refused to elaborate. Essex County Cricket Club said that they would make no comment until the investigation has been concluded.

While Kaneria's future at Essex is now in doubt, the other player - who is a lower-profile member of the staff and is not featuring in the opening championship match against Hampshire - will almost certainly be released if found guilty.
 
Kaneria, who has been Essex's key player for several years, said that he has always played his cricket honestly, adding that such reports are tarnishing his image.

"My cricketing career is completely unstained and I'm surprised at such allegations," said Kaneria, who is Pakistan's most successful Test spinner of all time. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) issued a brief statement from Essex Police on Friday evening stating that inquiries are currently being conducted into the actions of two Essex players in a match last season.

The newspaper said that Essex have known about the allegations for a month but were shocked when they became public. "I am not allowed to comment," the newspaper quoted Essex coach Paul Grayson as saying.
 
According to The Times, the allegations, which were made last month, relate to a player underperfoming in matches in last season's NatWest Pro40. It is believed that the player had been put in touch with a bookmaker by a team-mate and had been given an incentive to perform poorly in one or more high-profile games in the league's first division, in which Essex came fourth.
 
"One of the players is believed to have introduced another to a bookmaker, who offered him money if he bowled no-balls and wides in one or more limited-overs games," The Times quoted a source as saying.  The 29-year-old Kaneria has taken 254 wickets in 58 Tests and is due to play against England in the second half of the summer.
Televised matches in the Twenty20 Cup and the 40-over competition attract millions of pounds worth of gambling money because they are normally shown in India.
The daily also said that the players did not actively throw matches but manipulated passages of play by bowling poorly or sending down no-balls or wides.

This is not the first time the county has been investigated for alleged match fixing. In 1994 Don Topley, a former Essex seam bowler, prompted an inquiry after claiming that matches against Lancashire near the end of the 1991 season had been fixed.  Topley alleged that Lancashire had agreed to bowl badly in their three-day fixture with Essex in exchange for the favour being returned in a Sunday League fixture. Essex were chasing the county championship title, which they went on to win, but Lancashire were pipped to the Sunday League by Nottinghamshire despite beating Essex in their final game.

The allegations were dismissed as having no foundation by the Test and County Cricket Board, the predecessor of the ECB, but the case was reopened in 2000 by Scotland Yard after two of Topley's former team-mates supported his allegation. No charges were brought.

Essex's overseas player in 1991 was Salim Malik, the Pakistan batsman who was banned for life in 2000 for match fixing in international games. There is no suggestion that he was involved in the decision to rig the matches with Lancashire.

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