Danish Kaneria has been © Getty Images
Danish Kaneria was never proven guilty © Getty Images

Danish Kaneria has 261 Test wickets to his name. At the time of writing this article, he ranks fourth among all Pakistani bowlers. The top three names on the list — Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Imran Khan — will walk into most all-time Pakistan XIs, and one or more may feature in the World XIs. Had he had a better gloveman than Kamran Akmal to assist him, Kaneria may have had a tally close to 300 Test wickets. READ: Cash-strapped Danish Kaneria says he is dying, appeals to BCCI for help

But Kaneria is nowhere close to the Pakistan side anymore. The last Test he played was back in 2010, where he — and Pakistan — received a hammering against England at Trent Bridge. It was a massive rout, but cricket has seen worse. He played a couple of matches for Essex in the County Championship, and that was it.

Before all this, two months before the Trent Bridge Test, there had been an arrest. Something to do with ‘match irregularities,’ was the allegation. The allegation pertained to spot-fixing. Arrested along him was seamer Mervyn Westfield. In the match in question— a Pro40 contest in 2009— Durham had piled up 276 in 40 overs but Essex had chased down the target.

Later that day, Kaneria had been released on bail. He was selected for the Tests against South Africa, but PCB withdrew him without a reason. Unfortunately, when Westfield was tried in 2012 for spot-fixing, Kaneria was named — and found guilty — and was dished out a life-ban from playing in England.

Later, ECB filed a petition at Sind High Court, demanding £100,000 as compensation from Kaneria. Almost as a gesture of support to ECB, PCB has banned Kaneria from playing any cricket governed by them; nor can he use PCB’s training facilities, nor can he enter a stadium that comes under PCB’s jurisdiction. ICC came to the fray as well, and Kaneria was left without opportunities or income, left to survive on his savings.

Was Kaneria guilty? Scotland Yard, upon probing into the matter, had not found evidence against him. Meanwhile, PCB, in an excellent gesture, had streamlined Mohammad Aamer back to international cricket. Even Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are trying to make comebacks, and while there is not exactly mass support for the duo, there is no strong opposition to the matter. READ: Welcome home, Mohammad Aamer

Kaneria has appealed thrice against the verdict, and he lost on all three occasions. Running out on cash and bordering on the verge of bankruptcy, he pleaded innocent, asking for one final chance to prove his innocence, pleading to BCCI for help.

His requests are twofold: he has asked for a source of income (“I am living on my last savings. I do not know how long I will survive. I can even teach young Indians the art of spin, can’t I?”), and has requested BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur to request President Shashank Manohar to talk to ICC on his behalf.

Let the fact sink in a bit: this is Danish Kaneria, who had bowled magnificently on the India tour of 2005. What could he have gone through in order to plead for support to a nation he has grown up knowing as arch rival on the ground?

Why single out Kaneria, then? If Kaneria had erred, so had Aamer. If Aamer could make a comeback, so can Kaneria. Why has cricket shunned Kaneria forever? At 35, his best days are probably behind him, but why should that matter?

Most importantly, why is still being victimised, despite there being no clear evidence that can convict him?

This is not the first time that a board has let his cricketer down, financially or otherwise. PCB or CSA or CA did not initially come to the aid of ailing Hanif Mohammad or Graeme Pollock or Nathan Bracken. Brian Statham or Graham Dilley did not deserve to die in poverty. The same holds for several Indian cricketers (Janardan Navle and Ramnath Parkar, for example) before BCCI started their pension scheme.

Chris Cairns has match-fixing allegations against him, and WICB’s reluctance to look after cricketers who had gone on rebel tours is probably understandable. But why shun them for life? Why stop them from earning a livelihood off cricket?

Preventing people from playing makes sense (provided the cricketer in question has served his term); stopping them from having a source of income around cricket perhaps does not.

Give Kaneria a chance.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)