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English cricketer found guilty of spot-fixing

A former Essex cricketer is facing jail after becoming the first English player to be convicted of participating in a betting scam.

Mervyn Westfield, 23, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the charge to accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the concession of a predetermined number of runs.

The charge related to a one-day, 40 over match between Durham and Essex on 5 September 2009 and comes just months after three Pakistani cricketers were jailed for their involvement in a spot-fixing scam that shocked the world of cricket.

Westfield was paid £6,000 by a betting syndicate to allow a certain number of runs to be scored off his first over of bowling.

The court heard that the Romford-born bowler had agreed to concede 12 runs, but only managed to give away 10. Despite not holding up his end of the bargain, Westfield admitted he had agreed to the scam and accepted the money. He was found out after unguardedly confessing his actions to a fellow player.

Neither the alleged corrupter, nor the player to whom Westfield confessed, were identified in court.

Westfield remains on bail.

Last night, in a bid to complete a clearer picture of how would-be fixers operate, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced an amnesty until April, allowing players and officials to give details about approaches to them or their peers without the fear of sanction. ECB regulations usually stipulate that not reporting such approaches is an offence in itself.

Jack Watkins
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