Mervyn Westfield, a former Essex medium pacer, was charged for bringing the game to disrepute and was sentenced to four months in prison in 2013 for spot-fixing — the first English player to be jailed for such an offence.
What was he charged with?
Westfield, who was only 23 when he was implicated, pleaded guilty to accepting £6,000 to concede 12 runs from an over in a Pro40 game against Durham in 2009. In his sentence, Judge Anthony Morris said: “If because of corrupt payments it cannot be guaranteed that every player plays to the best of his ability, the reality is the enjoyment of many millions of people around the world who watch cricket will eventually be destroyed.”
Westfield gave an exhaustive account of the events in September 2009, in the lead-up to his prison sentence to the Professional Cricketers’ Association, where he claimed that he had first met Danish Kaneria when he was just 18, and in his second year as a professional cricketer. “Everyone liked him (Kaneria) in the dressing room. He was a role model for most of the people in our team,” Westfield said.
After having spent considerable time on and off the field, the former Pakistan leg-spinner took him into confidence, and it was during one of the many casual conversations when Kaneria brought up the issue of spot-fixing. Westfield admitted he was a bit confused when he heard it at first, but Kaneria suggested that a few people in the game were doing it.
“I was at his house and he asked if he could speak to me outside. that’s when he first started talking about it. He said it’s hard for a young person to get money nowadays in cricket and that’s how the conversation started.” Kaneria went on to add: “You are young and it is hard to make money; I have a way that you can make money quicker”. Following which Kaneria introduced him to Indian businessman, Anu Bhatt, and a deal for the fix was struck for the Pro40 match against Durham. “I felt confused because I didn’t really understand where he was coming from or what he was talking about. Him and his friends kept on asking and asking and I felt pressured into it and I sort of had to do it. I just felt so confused what was going,” Westfield explained.
During his meetings with Bhatt, a well-chalked out plan was devised, in which Westfield was asked to concede a certain number of runs in an over. The nervous youngster accidentally failed to concede the number of runs agreed upon, but received payment for his efforts anyway.
He admitted to being a nervous wreck during that game. “When I bowled my first over, I didn’t even check the scoreboard to see if I went for 12 or more,” he said. “With all the emotions going through my head, I was confused about what was going on. Danish, who lived next to my house, always gave me a lift home. It was late, it was 3 am or something like that. He had two friends in the car as well and they had a black bag with the money, which was handed over to me,” he revealed. Following that, Westfield resisted calls to repeat the sting in the subsequent game against Somerset. He was eventually banned from professional cricket for five years, and from club cricket for three years.