Published: 00:00, 02 April 2014
| Updated: 16:22, 02 April 2014
Darren Stevens says he expects to be hit by emotion when he walks out alongside his Kent team-mates for their first game following his acquittal over match-fixing allegations.
The 37-year-old all-rounder was accused of failing to report a corrupt approach during a Bangladesh Premier League game in February 2013, charges which carried a global ban of one to five years if found guilty.
Stevens produced an astonishing season in 2013, sweeping the board at Kent’s end-of-season awards and hitting an unbeaten double-hundred on the final day of the season against Lancashire – a knock which he feared could be his last until a Dhaka tribunal acquitted him on February 26.
In his first interview since the verdict was delivered, Stevens said: “When we were sitting there, we didn’t know which way it was going to go. It was all up in the air, the whole way. “Through the whole hearing, you had a good day then a bad day, it was the same for everybody, too-ing and fro-ing all the time.
“I didn’t know literally until the word was spoken and when it came out, it was a little bit surreal. I couldn’t believe it.
“It was a massive relief. It was a horrible process. Unfortunately, I had to go through it but it came out good in the end.”
Stevens spent two weeks in South Africa following the tribunal and after his return to the UK, has sought to make up for lost time in his quest for fitness.
“I’m behind the eight-ball at the minute,” he said. “I found it difficult. My mind was not in the right place. When I got the verdict, I laid low for a bit to try and get my head round everything. If I’d come straight home, I’d have been in a bit of a mess – I wanted to get my head right. I did nothing in cricket terms but I did run every day.
“I am not as fit as I generally am at this stage but I have worked hard over the past couple of weeks and I should be fine for the start of the season.
“Every year for the last 18 or 19 winters, I’ve been away training and playing cricket.
“This might have come at a good time to give my body and mind a breather away from cricket.
“I am massively motivated now. We didn’t know this day would come but now it has, I’ve done my bit and more. I am doing extra work to get me up with the rest of the lads.”
Stevens admitted the thought of returning to competitive action has “got to me a little bit” and he added: “It’s bound to be a little bit emotional – it is even when I talk about it.
“It’ll be the same when I walk out on the pitch with the boys. When it’s something that nearly got taken away from you, I’m lucky to have it back and all being well, I can play for another few years.”
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