Kent's Darren Stevens relieved to be playing after corruption charge
Kent's Darren Stevens is relieved he can now concentrate on playing after being cleared of an International Cricket Council corruption charge.
Last August, the 37-year-old all-rounder was charged with failing to report a corrupt approach, but he was found not guilty in February.
"Getting the right result was a massive weight off my shoulders and Kent's shoulders," he told BBC Radio Kent.
"It was a horrible situation and it is pleasing to be playing this summer."
The charge against Stevens related to his time playing in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2013, and an alleged match-fixing conspiracy within the Dhaka Gladiators franchise.
The former Leicestershire player denied the charge and was cleared by a Bangladesh Cricket Board anti-corruption tribunal.
"It was a long summer with what was going on and what was over my head," Stevens added.
Darren Stevens factfile
- Born: 30 April, 1976 in Leicester
- First-class runs: 11,623 at an average of 35.32
- First-class wickets: 202 at 30.67
- 2013 County Championship: 1,268 runs at 63.40 and 32 wickets at 32.84
Statistics correct as of 10 April
"I was in meetings all through the summer which were four or five hours long. That came to an end and then it was an even longer winter.
"Everyone says that when you go through a tough patch you know who your friends are. Thanks go to the Kent staff, the players and also the supporters.
"I had emails, text messages and had a lot of feedback on Twitter with people sticking by me. I want to thank them for being there for me in such a tough time.
"We are out the other side of it now, a not guilty verdict came our way and we can just get on with our lives."
Stevens was not suspended by the ICC after being charged and played some of his best cricket towards the end of last season, including scoring an unbeaten 205 in the final game.
"Every time I came to the ground it was like a release for me," he said.
"The players all knew what was going on as I had explained it and they helped me through the summer.
"Kent were brilliant through the summer and winter and [Kent chief executive] Jamie Clifford has been really good for me.
"The games got me through it as I had something to look forward to. I put myself under a bit more pressure as it could have been the end of my cricketing days. I wasn't ready to give that up."
Stevens feared his career could have been over after being charged and is relishing the start of the new County Championship season, which Kent begin away to Worcestershire on Sunday.
"I don't know how I'll feel until the day, but it will be a bit emotional, I reckon," he said. "I'll get through that and try and do a good job for the boys this summer.
"When I walk out for the first time with a bat in my hand on my own it will probably hit home."