Spot-fixing

Angry Westfield appears at Kaneria hearing

George Dobell

April 22, 2013

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Mervyn Westfield pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey, London, January, 12, 2012
Mervyn Westfield has said he has been through "torture" in the last three years © Getty Images
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Mervyn Westfield has attacked English cricket for failing to protect him after the ECB won its legal battle to force him to testify at Danish Kaneria's appeal hearing against a life ban for corruption.

Westfield, in a statement made through his legal team as Kaneria's appeal began on Monday morning, sought to shift blame onto Essex, the ECB and the Professional Cricketers Association for not intervening earlier to stop the spot-fixing scam which led to him serving a jail sentence and being banned from first-class cricket for five years.

"I have heard that Essex County Cricket Club, together with the English Cricket Board and the Professional Cricketers Association were fully aware of the situation I was falling into but stood back until my involvement reached the point of my guilty conviction," he said. "No-one wished to protect me at any stage. Where was their duty of care to me as a member of their staff?"

Neither Westfield not his lawyers have offered evidence for his contention that the authorities could have intervened earlier to prevent the scam in which he agreed to underperform in a one-day match for Essex against Durham in September 2009.

Angus Porter, chief executive of the PCA, rejected the suggestion that the authorities had prior notice of the spot-fixing plot, calling Westfield "bitter" and "confused" and expressing regret that he had refused to take part in a proposed rehabilitation process.

Westfield claimed the ECB had taken a "hostile route" which has included gaining a High Court order for his appearance at the hearing, which is being held in private at the London Court of International Arbitration and it is expected to last until Thursday. Westfield is giving evidence today and that part of the hearing could extend into Tuesday.

"I am here today not because of the summons, nor because of any other party," Westfield said in a statement issued through his lawyer, Yasin Patel, who also represented Salman Butt. "My family have stood by me throughout the torture I have been made to live with this.

"No one else has given me any support despite all the promises a year ago. I am here to bring to an end the pain and suffering that I am forced to continuously suffer and in the hope that after today my family and I will never be subjected to the humiliation and hurt we have gone through in the last three years."

The ECB feared that without Westfield's testimony the case against Kaneria - the most successful spinner in Pakistan's Test history - would collapse. Kaneria's legal team had argued that unless Westfield appeared at the tribunal, and was subjected to cross examination, his evidence would be inadmissible. That would have increased the possibility that Kaneria would be cleared and free to return to cricket only one year after being banned.

Kaneria spoke to ESPNcricinfo during a break in proceedings at the International Disputes Resolution Centre in Fleet Street. He said of the original case: "The evidence was not strong, it's one man's word against another man's word and you can't cut a man's hands off with that as evidence. How can they take my livelihood with one man's word against another? Only almighty God can judge me and Inshallah he will look after me, I have faith. I would be happy to bowl for Pakistan again. I would love to do it."

Westfield remains angry with the ECB and the PCA. He feels that his penalty was a harsh one - he spent two months in prison and was banned from the first-class game for five years and the recreational game for three - and that it does not reflect that he cooperated with the investigating authorities, pleaded guilty and gave evidence against Kaneria.

Porter, whose leadership of the PCA has coincided with a growing commitment to educate players about the danger of betting-related corruption, told ESPNcricinfo. "He is a terribly bitter young man who feels he has been let down. I hope he reflects he's in this position because he got himself into this position.

"We have made efforts to made to help him with his rehabilitation but ultimately they have been unsuccessful. He has refused our attempts to have a full and open discussion with him. We were prepared to use him for some filming as part of our anti-corruption training and we could have helped with the cost of retraining.

"I understand why the ECB did what they did. I think all of us feel strongly that Danish Kaneria should face the consequences of his actions."

On the claim that others knew about what was happening, Porter said: "Hand on heart, the first any of us at the PCA knew about this was when the players came forward. It does pre-date my arrival at the PCA but I have never, at any stage, heard any suggestion that anyone knew what was going on until it was reported.

"His language is confused in the statement and I'm honestly not sure exactly what he means, but it strikes me as a very strange thing to say at this stage."

Nigel Hilliard, the Essex chairman, had no comment when contacted.

Kaneria, the Pakistan legspinner, was banned from the game for life and charged £100,000 in costs by an ECB panel in June 2012 for his part in the spot-fixing case involving Westfield. He had been found guilty of inducing his former Essex team-mate to underperform in a limited-overs game in 2009 and of bringing the game into disrepute. Westfield pleaded guilty at the trial and did not face cross-examination.

As all boards under the governance of the ICC have an agreement to mirror bans imposed in such circumstances, Kaneria's ban has been effective worldwide.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (April 24, 2013, 13:43 GMT)

@Charlie101 If Mervyn Westfield should get a reduction in just 6 months upon his co oprration, then what about poor young M. Amir? he pleaded guilty as well as was minor at the time.

Posted by Charlie101 on (April 23, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

@glance_to_leg I agree the punishment has been very harsh ie 2 months in prison and the end of his cricket career as he will not come back at 28 /29. I would hope that the ECB will look at his case again in 6 months as Westfield has cooperated and perhaps reduce his cricket ban .

I am not sure of the law but if Kanaria loses his appeal and more detailed evidence from Westfield is given - will the police then be able to prosecute Kanaria again ??

Posted by shillingsworth on (April 23, 2013, 12:08 GMT)

@keptalittlelow - The ECB panel has found Kaneria guilty of a serious breach of the disciplinary code but given him leave to appeal against the verdict and the sanction imposed. I see no injustice there. It is correct that the CPS decided against bringing criminal proceedings against Kaneria. Since the courts have the power to deprive an individual of their liberty, the standard of proof is necessarily much higher. The ECB disciplinary tribunal applies solely cricketing sanctions and need only prove that Kaneria breached the code he signed up to as a county cricketer. You appear confident that no such breach has occurred yet provide no evidence to support your view.

Posted by milepost on (April 23, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

I think some are missing the point. Westfield feels because he cooperated fully and pleaded guilty he should have been cut some slack which he wasn't. I don't think he blames anyone for the situation though if there was prior knowledge of what was going on then it's a pertinent point that due care was not exercised. What I will add is that under performing for any team you represent in a fradulent way is a nasty act and the punishments are well warranted. How comfortable will cricket fans feel if Butt and Asif play again?

Posted by keptalittlelow on (April 23, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Kaneria was never tried, never jailed, but was banned for life, what justice was that? Let's hope the justice is done now, the whole case falls and Kaneria gets acquitted.

Posted by cricPassion2009 on (April 23, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

Good luck to Kaneria and Westfield.

Hope Pak cricket emerges strong after these events.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (April 23, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

It's a bit of a joke, Westfield accusing the ECB of being hostile, as though that was their first choice. They were forced into obtaining a High Court summons by Westfield's own refusal to cooperate. Westfield claims that he has cooperated but if he doesn't follow through then Kaneria's ban is lifted and the ECB may have to pay damages, so he would have actually done more harm than if he hadn't testified in the first place. Westfield did the wrong thing and, if he wants to make amends, he has to do it properly. If that means some pain for him then so be it. There'd have been no pain at all if he hadn't done the wrong thing in the first place so I have little sympathy for him.

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (April 22, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

Nobody put Mervyn Westfield in this situation except Mervyn Westfield. When is he going to man up and stop trying to blame everyone else?

Posted by keptalittlelow on (April 22, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

Angry or not Westfield must testify in the court, if he does not testify then the whole case falls and Kaneria must be acquitted.

Posted by glance_to_leg on (April 22, 2013, 18:50 GMT)

Am I alone in feeling sorry for this man? I feel he received a very harsh punishment. Westfield was a relatively inexperienced young cricketer, seemingly unlikely to get international recognition. He did two months in prison (fair enough), but a five year ban strikes me as extremely draconian. And really what would have been the harm in letting him play recreational cricket, so he could at the very least keep sufficiently in touch with the game to have some chance of resuming a professional career (albeit probably as a professional league player rather than a county pro ... I imagine it would be a bit hard to break into the game for a second time aged 28 or 29)? I do, however, agree that it was right that he should be made to appear in court for the greater good.

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