One player who will have been delighted to see the back of 2010 is Danish Kaneria, for whom the year proved to be an ‘annus horribilis’.
In May came allegations that the Pakistan leg-spinner, together with Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield, had been involved in ‘spot-fixing’ during a Pro-40 match when playing for Essex against Durham at Chester-le-Street in 2009.
It was not until September last year that it was announced that charges against Kaneria had been dropped although investigations concerning Westfield were ongoing.
However, the wrist-spinner’s form during the season nose-dived and the 30-year-old was sensationally axed from the Pakistan tour party during the summer’s Test series with England.
He returned to Essex for the remainder of the season but seldom looked the incisive and wily bowler of previous campaigns and it was announced by the county that they had decided not to re-engage him for 2011.
Then Kaneria was selected for the two-match Test series against South Africa during the winter but, shortly afterwards, the Pakistan Cricket Board stopped him from playing in the series although no reason was given.
The troubled player has found support, however, from fellow countryman and spin legend Abdul Qadir who resigned from his post as chief selector of Pakistan cricket in 2009 because of his differences with the top brass of the PCB.
“Expectation has sometimes been placed too heavily on Danish’s shoulders,” Qadir said. “Unless he is playing with real strike bowlers in the side such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or Shoaib Akhtar, he doesn’t always handle the added responsibility and enhanced pressure well.
“I always pray for Danish Kaneria to perform as I still remember seeing him for the first time at one of General Tauqir Zia’s training camps for spinners of which I was in charge. I recognised his potential immediately and, after giving him pointers at the camp, I could see that he could be an asset for Pakistan cricket so forwarded a letter recommending he be selected to the cricket board.
“I think Danish was extremely poorly treated on the recent tour of England by being booted out of the squad by the PCB and the attitude towards him recently with his non-selection against South Africa is not the way you go about handling your leading spin wicket-taker.”
Not that 2011 has started any more promisingly for Kaneria, who has been the subject of a Pakistan Cricket Board integrity committee enquiry, having been omitted from his country’s preliminary 30-man squad for the forthcoming World Cup.