English County Cricketer Mervyn Westfield Pleads Guilty to Spot-Fixing

January 12, 2012

Former English county cricketer Mervyn Westfield has pleaded guilty on Thursday to a corruption charge linked to his bowling in a 40-over one-day game.

Westfield, ed 23, who played for Essex, admitted accepting or obtaining a corrupt £6,000 payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs when Essex played Durham in a Pro40 match in 2009, during a hearing at the Old Bailey in London.

The court heard he had agreed to bowl his first over in a way that would let Durham score a set number of runs in the game in September 2009.

Westfield will be sentenced on February 10 and was warned he will face a jail sentence.

Judge Anthony Morris told Westfield: “I hold out no promises to you as to the eventual outcome of this case. It’s open to the court in this case to pass an immediate custodial sentence.”

Morris added the name of the other party involved in the deal would be known to cricket fans, but it was not revealed in court.

This continues to hurt the reputation of the sport after Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed in Britain last year for their role in a ‘spot-fixing’ scandal in a Test match against England.

Huge sums are bet on cricket matches, especially in the Indian sub-continent — the sport’s financial powerhouse but an area where gambling on cricket is generally illegal — because of the way incidents in matches, and results, can be manipulated.

The court heard the seamer, who was released by Essex in 2010 “on cricketing grounds,” agreed to bowl the first over so that 12 runs could be scored, but only 10 were achieved.

Westfield conceded 60 runs from seven overs as Durham scored 276 for six, a target surpassed by Essex, who won by seven wickets with 19 balls to spare in the Pro40 game played in Chester-le-Street.

His admission of guilt came just two days after former England captain Mike Brearley, now the chairman of MCC’s world cricket committee, urged players to “take ownership” of the issue of corruption in cricket.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s anti-corruption chief Chris Watts, formerly a detective with London’s Metropolitan Police, recently suggested the domestic game may be more vulnerable to malpractice because of its lower profile and the fact players involved are generally earning less than their international counterparts.

But Angus Porter, the chief executive of England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association, told the Press Association: “Our view on it is that the world has moved on quite a long way since he (Westfield) committed those offences.

“We’ve invested a huge amount in educating players as to their responsibilities, but I think that none of us can be complacent.”

As for suggestions the county game was particularly vulnerable, Porter added: “I’m not convinced that we know who the high-risk groups are.

“There is no doubt that where there are threats of corruption they will be linked to gambling and that gambling will predominantly be on televised games.

“International cricket certainly is a risk and I think domestic cricket is also a risk because some games are televised on the Indian sub-continent so I suppose those specific matches are the ones we need to worry about.”

Porter added the PCA had advised Westfield.

“We did offer him advice in the early days and one thing that was important, given that that case involved a number of people in the Essex dressing room, was to make sure he had independent legal advice and we helped him to source that,” he said.

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