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Former Essex cricketer admits spot betting charge

Mervyn Westfield, a former Essex county cricketer, has admitted to accepting a corrupt payment to aid spot betting in a 40-over one-day match against Durham on September 5, 2009.

cricket Updated: Jan 13, 2012 11:01 IST

Mervyn Westfield, a former Essex county cricketer, has admitted to accepting a corrupt payment to aid spot betting in a 40-over one-day match against Durham on September 5, 2009.

According to a report in 'The Evening Standard', The Old Bailey heard he had agreed to bowl his first over in a way that would let Durham score a set number of runs.

The 23-year-old Westfield was warned that he could face jail when he is sentenced in February. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He was granted unconditional bail until sentencing on February 10.

A separate charge of assisting another person to cheat at gambling was ordered to lie on file. Judge Anthony Morris told the court he understood Westfield had agreed to concede 12 runs in exchange for £6,000 but only 10 runs were, in fact, conceded during the first over.

The judge also said the person who offered Westfield the money was known to the people involved in cricket. Westfield is the first English cricketer to be guilty of spot fixing. His case follows the jailing of three Pakistani cricketers and an agent last year over spot-fixing during a Test Match between England and Pakistan.

Spot betting involves wagers on specific events or incidents in a game and is very popular with gamblers across the world. However, an illegal element called spot-fixing developed when sports people were bribed to fix events so a few people in the know could place bets at high odds to make money by cheating.

Essex and Kent police investigated allegations that this activity was being carried out in the county cricket.

In the Westfield case, the police forces said they were helped by the International Cricket Council, the England and
Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Essex County Cricket Club and the UK Gambling Commission.

A spokesman, Det Sgt Paul Lopez said the prosecution was the first use of prevention of corruption legislation relating to a sporting event.

"This was a ground breaking case and highly complex," said Det Sgt Paul Lopez. "We are pleased that Mervyn Westfield has admitted the charge and 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." Angus Porter, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, said: "The world has moved on quite a long way since he 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. "I think that we are all very mindful of the need to make sure that sport is played properly." The ECB and Essex County Cricket Club both declined to comment on Westfield's case at this stage.