County cricketer admits fixing charge

By @ibtimes on

A former county cricketer pleaded guilty on Thursday to agreeing to take money to bowl badly in a televised match in 2009 in the latest spot fixing scandal to hit the sport.

In November, a court jailed three Pakistani players for fixing parts of a test in England in 2010 and this latest case will raise fresh concerns about connections between cricket and illegal gambling circles on the Indian sub-continent.

Mervyn Westfield, who played for Essex, admitted agreeing to allow 12 runs to come off his opening over in a 40-over match against Durham in September 2009 in return for a 6,000 pound payment. In the event, only 10 runs were scored off the over.

Judge Anthony Morris said that the name of the other party involved in the deal would be known to cricket fans, but it was not revealed in court, the Press Association news agency reported.

The judge warned Westfield that he could be jailed when he is sentenced on February 10.

The maximum sentence is seven years. Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt was jailed for 30 months last year for his part in a spot fixing scam, while his team mates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir got one year and six months respectively.

It's open to the court in this case to pass an immediate custodial sentence, Morris told Westfield during a hearing at the Old Bailey.

Although it was a relatively low-key county fixture, the game could have been seen by gamblers around the globe.

The fact that the game was on television is unlikely to be a coincidence, said Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association.

Porter said the PCA had worked hard to educate players about the risk of corruption since the offence occurred.

We should not be complacent, we should not think it is a one-off but neither should we think it is endemic, Porter told Reuters.

Some of Westfield's fellow players told the authorities they had suspicions that he may have been deliberately bowling badly.

Essex, the International Cricket Council, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the Gambling Commission all helped the police to investigate the case.

We hope that this sends a strong message to professional sportsmen and women around the country - if they intend to get involved in spot fixing, or think that match fixing is not a crime, then they need to think again, said Paul Lopez, a detective sergeant with Essex Police.

Former England captain Mike Brearley said this week that eradicating corruption from the game was probably impossible but that was no reason to stop trying.

(Reporting by Keith Weir, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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