This is the little-known face of the cheat who could bring cricket to its knees. Essex paceman Mervyn Westfield faces jail after becoming the first Englishman convicted of match-fixing.
He will be sentenced on 10 February but – with three Pakistani cricketers jailed in England last year over similar charges – the 23-year-old is expected to name further fixers in the game as he bids to get his sentence reduced.
Westfield was warned by Judge Anthony Morris: “Mr Westfield, I hold out no promises but it is open to the court to pass an immediate custodial sentence.”
Morris also promised to name the “well-known” cricketing character who paid Westfield. The ECB announced an amnesty on match-fixers last Friday in an attempt to get further corruption out in the open – but Cricket South Africa refused to accept the need for something similar in this country despite the shadow of the late Hansie Cronjé’s match-fixing, exposed in 2000.
One CSA spokesman told Scoop! last Friday: “Nobody in South Africa is under suspicion.” But Herschelle Gibbs, who admitted to trying to fix an innings in India in 2000 and still plays for the Cobras, received only a six-month ban from cricket.
Westfield, once considered a Test contender, effectively threw his career away for £6 000 (R72 000) when he promised to allow 12 runs to be scored off the first over of a Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009.
Though he bowled a wide, only 10 runs were conceded. Westfield’s legal team argued their client had not gone through with the fix, but the judge said he found it “difficult to accept”that he would not have been paid.
The game was broadcast live on Sky across India and Pakistan, making it eminently fixable. Westfield conceded 60 runs from his seven overs but Essex went on to win by seven wickets.
Born in Romford near London, Westfield boasted about his ill-gotten earnings to col¬leagues, who blew the whistle.
Westfield’s conviction is a huge embarrassment for English cricket, coming three months after Pakistan stars Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed for spot-fixing.
This story first appeared in Scoop! South Africa's new Sunday tabloid. See www.scoopnews.co.za