Mohammed Naveed remains intent on clearing his name of corruption charges but accepts his international career for UAE might be over.
The former UAE captain could face a ban of up to 10 years if the ICC’s charges against him for breaching the game’s anti-corruption code are proven.
A three-man tribunal has been assigned to hear Naveed’s case. It will be chaired by Michael Beloff QC, who held the same position in the case of the three Pakistan players – Mohammed Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif – who were found guilty of spot-fixing in 2011.
Naveed was suspended in October after being charged with two offences as per the game’s anti-corruption code.
The first relates to “contriving, or being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly, the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of matches” in the subsequent T20 World Cup Qualifier.
The second relates to “failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in conduct in relation to the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019 that would amount to corrupt conduct under the code.”
Naveed has admitted he failed to report a conversation he had near the Sharjah corniche with someone he now describes as a “corrupt person”, but he refutes the first charge.
The 32-year-old fast-bowler has returned from his home in Pakistan to meet with his Dubai-based lawyer this week.
He has been living in his country of birth for most of the four months since he was charged.
He says he is prepared to sell his house in Pakistan to cover his legal costs if it means proving his innocence.
“I just want respect again, like I had until six months ago,” Naveed said.
“I remember in the 2016 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, playing in front of a big crowd, and feeling like a hero.
“If I am retired from cricket, I want to be remembered as a hero, not a cheater.”
He is the highest profile UAE player among five who are currently banned as a consequence of the ICC investigation.
Naveed, Shaiman Anwar and Qadeer Ahmed were suspended by the ICC. Ashfaq Ahmed was subsequently banned by the Emirates Cricket Board.
Ghulam Shabber is also suspended by the ECB for absconding, after he left the team hotel during the Qualifier without explanation and flew to Pakistan. He is also said to be under investigation.
Unsurprisingly given the turmoil, UAE failed to qualify for the T20 World Cup.
Naveed said he “prayed for my team” that they would be successful, and says he is sorry for the disruption he has caused.
The side have rebuilt since, with Dougie Brown overseeing a revival in fortunes of a young, inexperienced team over the past three months – only to be replaced as coach by Robin Singh this month.
“Dougie is a good man, an honest person and a good coach,” Naveed said.
“He is a good person. Dougie was sacked, and I feel guilty. Everything was going very well, and I feel sad for this. With Dougie, the team was together and gradually going up and up.
“Hopefully I will play cricket again, but it won’t be for UAE. If they can kick out Dougie Brown, then what is my value? Zero.
“Dougie is head coach, has a name around the world. Me, I am just a small player. I am just thinking small.”
Naveed says the only positive to come from his suspension has been being able to spend time at home with his sons Abdulbakr, 3, and Arman, who is 13 months old.
He says he wants them to study to become a “doctor, engineer, or pilot” rather than follow his footsteps into cricket, and is pained by the idea they could in future read about him in relation to corruption in the sport.
“Thinking of that is very painful,” Naveed said.
“I want him to think, ‘my father is a hero’. I performed very well. My focus is cricket.
"I accept I made a mistake, but, Inshallah, I want a clean sheet.
“If there is proof I am a corrupt person, and that I have involved my teammates, please, give me a life ban. This has been a very big problem in my life, but since being at home I have been happy because I have had a lot of family time.
“I want respect for myself, this is what is important for my family.”