Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens has opened up about the corruption allegations which devastated three years of his life and nearly ended his career.
Stevens was charged by the Bangladesh Cricket Board with failing to report an approach from a would-be match-fixer during the 2013 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League.
It was alleged that the 44-year-old should have contacted the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit following an incident while he was playing for Dhaka Gladiators.
Stevens was found not guilty of two charges relating “to an alleged conspiracy within the Dhaka Gladiators franchise to engage in match-fixing and spot-fixing activity” in February 2014, but he says the verdict could not undo all the damage.
“It was an utter mess and three years of my life I’ll never get back. It was just devastating,” he told the Two Hacks, One Pro podcast.
“My wife, Katie, went through the whole thing with me, obviously. She was gold, she was so good.
“I remember one night. I did five and a half hours on the stand one day and that night I broke down. I lost it. I nearly quit it and gave in. I rang her and she was emotional, but that night she was my complete and utter rock. She got me through that night. I didn’t sleep but the next morning I did another two and half hours on the stand.”
Stevens says he was approached by Shihab Chowdury, the managing director of the Dhaka Gladiators, asking if he would captain the side for a match against rivals Chittagong.
However, despite Stevens having previously been vice-captain, Chowdury asked that the team, who had already qualified for the next stage of the competition, still be led on the field by the batsman Mohammad Ashraful.
Stevens explained his response: “I said to him: ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ So in the end I didn’t skipper it and I didn’t skipper a game after that.
“I didn’t know, but that game was fixed and there was another game that was fixed.”
But despite not captaining Dhaka for that game, Stevens was later contacted by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, who were investigating conspiracy at the franchise.
Stevens added: “When the ICC started doing all their investigations, they went to all these players who were in the tournament and basically said to them: ‘What happened there?’ And they say: ‘Stevo knew what was going on, he got asked to skipper the game but turned them down’.
“This all went about and every one of them did a statement through the ICC, but all the fingers were pointing at me, saying I knew what was going on.”
Stevens, who played 12 matches for the Gladiators in the 2013 BPL, was then forced to spend hours with his lawyer before eventually attending a trial in Bangladesh where he and five others were found not guilty by a Bangladesh Cricket Board anti-corruption tribunal.
Former Bangladesh captain Ashraful, New Zealand’s Lou Vincent and Sri Lanka’s Kaushal Lokuarachi were banned for eight years, three years and 18 months respectively, while Dhaka’s managing director Chowdhury was given a 10-year suspension.