England news January 12, 2012

Cricketers offered match-fixing amnesty


England's professional cricketers have been offered an amnesty to report match-fixing approaches until the end of April in the wake of the Mervyn Westfield corruption trial.

The decision was made at an ECB management board meeting at Lord's on Thursday within hours of Westfield pleading guilty to accepting £6000 from an unnamed contact involved in an illegal gambling scam.

An ECB statement said: "The board has determined that a reporting window through to April 30, 2012 should be offered to players and officials to report approaches or information related to corrupt activities.

"It is an offence under ECB regulations not to report such activity and the board wished to provide an open opportunity for players or officials who may not have previously reported such activity to be offered the opportunity to furnish information without the threat of sanction concerning a prior failure to report such activity."

Chris Watts, the ECB's information manager, said: "Information is critical in addressing the threat posed by corruption in sport. The decision of the board to provide a window for retrospective reporting of alleged approaches will greatly assist the access unit in compiling a more complete picture of the source and focus of approaches which may have taken place in the past.

"Individuals may not have thought these approaches were worthy of reporting at the time," said Watts. "And prior to the decision of the board may have been concerned that the fact they did not report such activity may have put them at risk of disciplinary action."

Westfield's conviction on corruption charges will send a "useful message" to all English players, claims Angus Porter, the chief executive of the players' union, the Professional Cricketers' Association. He believes the case involving the former Essex seamer will "act as a signal to all players."

"This is a day of mixed emotions," said Porter. "While it couldn't be described as a good day for cricket, it is encouraging that action has been taken and that wrong-doing has been uncovered. My overwhelming reaction is that I'm pleased he decided to plead guilty.

"I don't think you can take the game of cricket away from the rest of his life. Use him as an example to make sure that other cricketers don't make the same mistake he did."
Nasser Hussain

"The other lesson we must take from this is that there is no room for complacency. The world has moved on since 2009 and the game has invested in player education. We went round all the counties in the pre-season period of 2010 and spoke to every county squad. All the players now know of their obligations and know the ways in which they might be persuaded to get involved in such practises."

The hot-line set-up for players to report any approaches has, according to Porter, seen very little activity, but he believes that the PCA may have played a key role in uncovering Westfield's actions.

While a number of Westfield's team-mates expressed some concerns at the time of the game in question, in September 2009, Porter believes it was the PCA's involvement in 2010 that provided the catalyst to those misgivings being reported to the proper authorities.

"We're not seeing a lot of activity on the hot-line. We've had less than a handful of calls. But it's important to remember that players can report any concerns in a number of different ways. They could, for example, report any concerns to their county in the first instance.

"I'm reluctant to overplay the role of the PCA in this, but yes, that is how I understand how this unfolded. It would seem that our reminders were issued in a timely way and triggered this response."

Porter described any potential comeback by Westfield as "unlikely".

"We hope that this sends a strong message to professional sportsmen and women around the country," said detective sergeant Paul Lopez of Essex Police, which conducted the investigation. "If they think that match-fixing is not a crime then they need to think again."

Angus Fraser has a perspective on the dangers of sports-fixing, as a player for England and Middlesex, a cricket journalist and now as Middlesex's managing director of cricket. "The ECB has been pretty vigilant," said Fraser. "I am sure that the players are as armed as possible against these incidents should they come along. There are always temptations and there always will be."

Ronnie Irani, who captained Westfield at Essex, expressed his sadness. "He was special," Irani told Sky Sports. "He really was. His parents will be gutted. It's a sad day for him, his family, for Essex and for the game."

Nasser Hussain, the former England and Essex captain, called for "an appropriate ban" and for Westfield to be used prominently in an education process for young professional cricketers.

"We have to be tough on spot-fixers to send a message to future generations," Hussain told Sky Sports. "He was a 21-year-old and he made a mistake. I don't think you can take the game of cricket away from the rest of his life. Use him as an example, make a video or something, to make sure that other cricketers don't make the same mistake he did."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • m on January 14, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    dravidgood ... you must be a REDNEK ... TO SAY THIS

  • Salman on January 14, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Whatever happened to British justice?

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    @ iBilal...i agree its a sad day for world cricket. but i think you are contradicting yourself for telling others not to be prejudice while at the same time making a statement that "Pakistanis will find uncomfortable satisfaction" . Arent Pakistanis being singled out by you?? What about South Africans or other former test players involved in fixing?? Money is temptation, all humans err they dont have to be only pakistani. Cricket has been full of corruption.

  • Sharjil on January 14, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    bigotry at its best. How about they let him walk free with a bag of smarties for coming out clean? Maybe others would follow? Absolutely ridiculous

  • sabtain on January 13, 2012, 22:58 GMT

    What about IPL , there is a hell lot of rigging and fixing there is ICC blind or they just dont want to see because of the money I am sure alot of indian player will be banned for life if they dig into

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    I can't help wonder if his real crime was being easily led and gullible enough to believe that it wasn't as serious an offence as the authorities had told him.

    In Amir's case, he was even younger, with his career being held hostage.

    Very, very sad.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    crooketNOTcricket...ICCnotCII !

  • david on January 13, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    jimmy2s i dont agree with your sentiments re jail time. it had to be with jail as i think the sentence did fit the crime under british law. what was done to those 3 and i expectthe brit guy had to be jail time. to the others on here the amnesty is for guys to report bookies or similar asking them to do the dirty deed. the amnesty is not for guys who have done similar things as the other 4. dpk

  • david on January 13, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    as far as iv heard on tv hes coming back later in the year for sentencing. which i think is the nornin the uk, and i expect him to go to jail. as for the pakistani players as they did not live in the uk, and maybe they thought they may not come back to this country their jail terms were given right away. i also expect him to be banned for life, which should have been given by the icc for the pakistani.this player was by police/cricket counties, not a sting operation. if they do ban him do the people who spoke on here would it then be ok for a life ban on the 3. i expect not. dpk

  • Saleem on January 13, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    The chickens are coming home to roast! If Mervyn Westfield was 21 when he committed this crime than M. Aamir was 18, and Aamir was naive was any 18 year old. The Whiteman's justice is very selected and indeed it is. Aamir should have NEVER received the punishment levied on him, he was first time offender and anywhere in the world where justice is in black and white he would have let go with a warning and community service. As Mike Bearlerly said Aamir deserves more compassion than anyone else. There should be no 'amnesty' to any cricketer, none, zero. Whoever committed this crime of match fixing needs to be prosecuted to the fullest and punished for their crimes against cricketing world. If Westfield gets an exemption than it should be followed by releasing PCB-3 and lifting all the bans levied against them. Nasser Hussain you are dead wrong in your assessment!

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