KARACHI: Former captain Rashid Latif on Saturday said Pakistan cricket authorities should not force leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to plead guilty to spot-fixing until he has exhausted all legal options available to him.
A disciplinary panel of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) banned Kaneria for life last year after he was convicted of luring Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield in to conceding a set number of runs in exchange for money during a 2009 country match.
Kaneria last week launched another appeal in a London commercial court against the ban after earlier appeals to the ECB, first to overturn, then to reduce the punishment, were rejected.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), possibly mindful of its reputation in the wake of a series of fixing scandals, has urged Kaneria to end his legal battle and confess.
But Latif said questions remained over Kaneria’s conviction. “I request the PCB not to force Kaneria to accept his guilt until his appeal at all forums is not decided,” the former wicketkeeper said at a press conference.
During the British proceedings against Kaneria, it was alleged that an Indian bookmaker named Anu Bhatt paid 6000 pounds to Westfield in a deal brokered by the leg-spinner. But Latif contested the allegations and said Bhatt and was hosted as a guest of the PCB in 2005 and 2006, a claim rejected by the body.
On Friday the PCB sent Latif a notice to either prove his allegations or apologise within three days.
Latif said he will answer the PCB’s notice and was ready to share proof in private.
“I will reply the PCB notice and offer them to see the evidence in private in the presence of legal advisers so that no one is wrongly involved if these evidences go public,” said Latif.
“Bhatt is a central figure in Kaneria’s case therefore, I will not talk on this matter publicly because it may affect the appeal hearing in the court.” Latif, who as a player blew the whistle on match fixing teammates admitted he has put his clean reputation on stake.
“Yes, for me reputation is everything but I have taken up this (Kaneria) case after enough thinking and reading all the documents,” said Latif, who played 37 Test and 166 one-day matches for Pakistan.
Latif’s testimony played a key role in handing former Pakistan captain Salim Malik and Ata-ur Rehman life bans after a judicial inquiry in 2000.
Six other players – Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Akram Raza – were also fined in the same case.
Most recently, former captain Salman Butt along with fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned in a 2010 spot-fixing case.
But while the PCB has sought clemency in the case of Aamer, it has not spoken up for Kaneria, said Latif.