By Charles Randall
8 March 2015
The ordeal of the Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens in Bangladesh in 2014 provided an interesting view of corruption, a lesson for any cricketer. He was cleared by a tribunal after a “brutal” four-week hearing in Dhaka.
The ICC have strict anti-corruption rules that require a player to report any suspicious behaviour immediately. Stevens was charged with failing to report an incident in the Bangladesh Premier League two years ago.
Stevens was playing for the Dhaka Gladiators when he was asked by the owner if he would captain the side in a match against Chittagong and was then informed that Mohammad Ashraful would still “run the game on the pitch”. Stevens turned down the offer. The owner's suggestion was odd, and it was interpreted by the authorities as suspicious, much to Stevens' detriment. He was questioned by Alan Peacock, of the ICC anti-corruption unit.
Stevens, 38, has now appeared in a DVD produced by the Professional Cricketers’ Association to be shown to all county players before the start of the new domestic season as part of an updated anti-corruption code.
His nightmare unfolded slowly, beginning with the telephone enquiry by Peacock. “Over the phone he said to me ‘can we have a meeting about Bangladesh?’ It wasn’t too bad at the start, but then it got worse and worse and worse,” Stevens said.
“The next meeting was a four-and-a-half hour meeting in London. After that it was hours and hours and hours of meetings with my lawyer going through everything, going through how the next six months up to the trial were probably going to pan out, then finally getting out to Bangladesh and going through everything.”
Stevens added: “The trial in Bangladesh was in a small room in a bank with cameras everywhere, all different lawyers from all over the place in the same room. You just felt claustrophobic.
“I was there for nearly four weeks, five days a week in court going through everything. Just sitting there in court was more nerve-racking than anything I have ever done. I was on the stand for seven hours, five hours on the day and two-and-half hours on the morning. It was really hard. Cricket is my life and has been for 25-30 years.”
Stevens hopes that talking about his experiences will help other players to appreciate the implications of failing to report any suspicious approach immediately. “It was horrific. Because I didn’t report at that time a suspicious act I have gone through hell over the last two years,” he said.
On a different level the former Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2012 for his involvement in spot-fixing, and after his release he helped in a comprehensive education and awareness initiative by the PCA as part of his rehabilitation.
Stevens feels that players should take advantage of their opportunities to play abroad – with vigilance. “There are so many opportunities around the world now,” he said, “and if Bangladesh did come back up again, I would not stop anyone going and playing out there. I wouldn’t go against that - I would encourage them to go and play. But I don’t want anybody to go through what I actually went through over those two years. In any of these tournaments anywhere around the world, whatever tournament you are playing in, if you do come across anything suspicious just report it immediately.”
The PCA have updated the general anti-corruption tutorial that all newly registered cricketers have to complete before playing first class cricket. The video mentions core rules, drawing on historic case studies to emphasise key aspects.
PCA video with Darren Stevens
PCA anti-corruption tutorial