Author: Anton Johan
Last year UK cricket fans were only to happy to scorn at disgraced and
subsequently jailed Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad
Amir who were convicted on an illegal betting conspiracy to bowl no-balls at a
Test match at Lord's in 2010, but now UK cricket betting irregularities
have hit the home front.
Cricket fans across the United Kingdom were both disappointed and outraged last
week when story broke about how 23-year-old former Essex fast bowler Mervyn
Westfield admitted to accepting £6,000 in exchange for giving away a pre-agreed
number of runs - known as 'spot fixing' - in the first over of a Pro40 game at
Durham in September 2009.
While - unfortunately - match-fixing and spot-fixing is nothing new to most
sports, especially international cricket, this is the first time England's
domestic cricket scene has been thrown so blatantly under the spotlight, because
it begs the question that if Westfield was involved, how many other English
cricketers are potentially on the take?
Westfield Admitted He was Paid for Spot-Fixing
Westfield was arrested in May 2010 after his former team-mate Tony Palladino,
raised concerns about the game in question with Essex captain Mark Pettini and
team coach Paul Grayson. Westfield reportedly showed Palladino a big wad of cash
and actually admitted that it was for the purpose of spot-fixing in a previous
Although it is unknown who exactly profited from the arrangement with Westfield,
it is thought that the spot-fixing was aimed at paying off betting fans based
outside the UK. Perhaps what is most shocking about Westfield's admission is how
he brought corruption into the 'gentleman's game' of cricket at a domestic
When the bowler chose to accept money to bowl poorly, he wasn't doing so to sway
a crucial Test match with hundreds of millions of pounds in national and
international bets riding on it, but to sway a lowly attended county match that
just happened to beamed live around the world courtesy of ECB's agreement with
Of course, there is no excuse for match or spot-fixing at any level of any
sport, but it won't be lost on most people that illegal betting has now -
officially - been found to have infiltrated domestic cricket in the UK, which is
sad on so many different levels, not least because it shows how much money there
is to be made via spot-fixing.
It's Hard to Imagine Westfield Acted on His Own
If a 'random' county match and the players in its teams can be so easily
corrupted by unscrupulous betting agents, what hope does the rest of the UK
cricket fraternity have? It's hard to imagine that Westfield acted on his own
and is the only English country cricket player to have been wooed over to the
dark side by persuasive criminals.
In fact, according to England and Wales
Cricket Board (ECB) information officer, Chris Watts, a former police detective
with decades of experience, and member of the ECB's recently launched
anti-corruption, education and security unit, the risks of corruption are
greater in the domestic game than the international arena, because county
players are paid far less than their national team counterparts, and are thus
more tempted by cash payouts.
However, in an attempt to combat corruption and illegal betting practices in
the UK's domestic and international cricket arenas, the ECB, in association with
the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), are hoping education programs
highlighting the risks of corruption, along with case studies of convicted
cricketers, will help dissuade young players from making career-ending choices
for supposedly easy money.
Posted by Anton Johan at 11:42 on 18 January 2012