Darren Stevens: Anti-corruption tribunal clears Kent all-rounder
Kent's Darren Stevens has been found not guilty by a Bangladesh Cricket Board anti-corruption tribunal of failing to report a corrupt approach.
The charge was in connection with an alleged match-fixing conspiracy in the 2013 Bangladesh Premier League.
Stevens, 37, played 12 matches for the Dhaka Gladiators in the BPL last year.
“I can assure all of the fans of the Dhaka Gladiators, the people of Bangladesh and all cricket followers, that I have always played the game of cricket honestly”
"This has been a long journey and I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported me," the all-rounder said.
The International Cricket Council charged nine individuals in relation to "an alleged conspiracy within the Dhaka Gladiators franchise to engage in match-fixing and spot-fixing activity".
Under the BCB's code, an individual who pleads guilty, or is found guilty by tribunal, of failing to report a corrupt approach faces sanctions - which could include a global suspension of between one and five years.
Following the tribunal's ruling, which also acquitted five others, the ICC and BCB issued a joint statement saying they were "surprised and obviously disappointed with the outcome".
The statement added: "Both organisations await the tribunal's detailed written determination setting out the reasons for the outcome, which will be provided shortly, and will consider it carefully before determining the next steps, including whether to appeal any aspect(s) of the judgment."
Stevens, who denied any wrongdoing, added: "I can assure all of the fans of the Dhaka Gladiators, the people of Bangladesh and all cricket followers, that I have always played the game of cricket honestly, with integrity, and to the best of my ability.
"I have loved playing cricket in Bangladesh, as well as everywhere else in the world, and I hope that I will be allowed to continue to play cricket globally."
Leicester-born Stevens is now free to prepare for the 18th season of his county career - which he began with his home county.
He has scored more than 11,500 first-class runs at an average of 35.29 - including 28 centuries - and over 8,600 runs in limited-overs cricket.
A useful medium-pacer, he has also taken 202 first-class wickets - with best figures of 7-21 - and also represented the England Lions team.
His globetrotting career also took him to New Zealand in 2010-11, when he played limited-overs cricket for Otago.
The verdict was welcomed by Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford, who said the club could now focus on the approaching County Championship season.
"I'm really pleased. I'm delighted Darren is going to be playing for us in 2014," Clifford told BBC Radio Kent.
"Far more importantly, I know how stressful it's been for him and his family, it's a huge relief for him to have the cloud lifted from him.
"It's a very happy day for all those reasons.
Stevens' career stats
- First-class: 11,578 runs, average 35.29, 28x100, 55x50, highest score 208.
- 202 wickets, average 30.49, best bowling 7-21, 161 catches
- List A (50/40 over): 6,532 runs, average 30.52, 5x100, 42x50.
- 97 wickets, average 31.73, best bowling 5-32, 104 catches
- T20: 3,119 runs, average 30.57, 13x50, highest score 77.
- 64 wickets, average 25.04, best bowling 4-14, 52 catches
"It's been a long haul and [there would have been] some pretty dark consequences if he'd been found guilty.
"A long ban could well have seen him not play the game again, which would have been a huge shame.
"People will be very relieved and delighted that they will be able to see Darren do what he does best, which is hit the ball out of the ground and to bowl and give his heart and soul for Kent.
"He always gives absolutely everything and I don't think this year will be any different.
"Darren is a pivotal member of our side in terms of its balance, everybody now can just get on with what we hope will be a successful campaign," Clifford said.
Stevens's Kent team-mate James Tredwell added: "He's been a big part of Kent cricket. It's huge to have him around the set-up going forward into next season.
"It would have been a massive hole for our team because he's been a massive player for us, putting in consistent performances with bat and ball.
"He's a great lad and it's going to be great to have around. I'm really pleased for him."