Anti-corruption drive continues as ECB amnesty ends
The Professional Cricketers' Association and ECB will continue to insist that all players, including short term overseas signings, undergo anti-corrupotion education - even though the three-month amnesty to report match-fixing has produced nothing of major significance.
Players arriving on short-term deals for the Friends Life t20 represent a major remaining obstacle in the education programme set up by the PCA and ECB in the wake of the Mervyn Westfield trial. Westfield pleaded guilty in January to spot-fixing while playing for Essex. He was sentenced to four months in prison but released on licence last week after serving half the sentence.
Every professional cricketer in the country has been required to work through an online tutorial. Overseas players have been given a two-week period after arriving in the country to complete it but the PCA has encouraged counties to arrange for players to fulfil the obligation before they arrive.
The Westfield trial prompted the ECB to open an amnesty window for confidentially reporting information about corruption. The window closed on April 30 with the ECB and PCA satisfied with the progress made in tackling corruption.
Current and former players came forward with information but nothing of major significance has been discovered. "All of this information has been managed in confidence and has given us a clear picture of the nature of the threat our game faces from corrupt activities," Chris Watts, the ECB's anti-corruption officer, said. "The absence of a significant number of new reports is reassuring but the access unit will rigorously review any report of alleged corruption."
Angus Porter, chief executive of the PCA, said the amnesty window "had not uncovered a can of worms" but said it has served a greater purpose. "More importantly we've taken the opportunity to remind people of their duty to report incidents without delay. It's been helpful as part as a general process of education."
Essex, Westfield's former county, were criticised for their reaction to the incident which occurred in September 2009 but was not reported until early 2010. They were accused in the trial at the Old Bailey for "turning a blind eye" to corruption by defence counsel Mark Milliken-Smith QC, a criticism they later dismissed as unjustified.
"We've been working closely with the Essex lads," Porter said. "We've all come an awfully long way since 2010. The emphasis of our discussions with them has been to acknowledge that they did the right thing in coming forward as they did."
The PCA remains undecided on whether to use Westfield as part of its future education programme. He and former team-mate, the Pakistan international Danish Kaneria, who was named during the trial as the man who groomed Westfield for corruption, are the subject of an ECB disciplinary hearing on May 21.
The hearing has been delayed to allow Kaneria's lawyers more time to prepare their defence. Kaneria has not yet confirmed whether he will attend the hearing in person.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo