Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The face of the man who could bring cricket to its knees: England's first convicted match fixer faces jail

This is the little-known face of the cheat who could bring cricket to its knees. Essex paceman Mervyn Westfield faces jail after becoming the first Englishman convicted of match-fixing.
He will be sentenced on 10 February but – with three Pakistani cricketers jailed in England last year over similar charges – the 23-year-old is expected to name further fixers in the game as he bids to get his sentence reduced.
Westfield was warned by Judge Anthony Morris: “Mr Westfield, I hold out no promises but it is open to the court to pass an immediate custodial sentence.”
Morris also promised to name the “well-known” cricketing character who paid Westfield. The ECB announced an amnesty on match-fixers last Friday in an attempt to get further corruption out in the open – but Cricket South Africa refused to accept the need for something similar in this country despite the shadow of the late Hansie Cronj√©’s match-fixing, exposed in 2000.
One CSA spokesman told Scoop! last Friday: “Nobody in South Africa is under suspicion.” But Herschelle Gibbs, who admitted to trying to fix an innings in India in 2000 and still plays for the Cobras, received only a six-month ban from cricket.
Westfield, once considered a Test contender, effectively threw his career away for £6 000 (R72 000) when he promised to allow 12 runs to be scored off the first over of a Pro40 match against Durham in September 2009.
Though he bowled a wide, only 10 runs were conceded. Westfield’s legal team argued their client had not gone through with the fix, but the judge said he found it “difficult to accept”that he would not have been paid.
The game was broadcast live on Sky across India and Pakistan, making it eminently fixable. Westfield conceded 60 runs from his seven overs but Essex went on to win by seven wickets.
Born in Romford near London, Westfield boasted about his ill-gotten earnings to col¬leagues, who blew the whistle.
Westfield’s conviction is a huge embarrassment for English cricket, coming three months after Pakistan stars Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed for spot-fixing.
This story first appeared in Scoop! South Africa's new Sunday tabloid. See www.scoopnews.co.za


  1. Well this certainly knocked the ECB of their high horses, after all the mud they have thrown against other nations.

  2. Interesting way of looking at it... certainly embarrassing for the ECB but it was the News of the World who caught the Pakistanis spot-fixing, not the cricket authorities. We tried to get the CSA to declare an amnesty similar to the ECB but they said there was no need. The international view on South African cricket is certainly tainted by Hansie Cronje - and the fact that some of his team-mates from those years remain in action.

  3. Hi Neal,

    Are you going to write an article on the Majola/Bacher/CSA/bonus/pension etc. article.

    Whilst I dont mind debating with you on Twitter 140 (less your name space) is a little stiffling)

    You had a fair amount to say (on Twitter) about how the Bacher case lent some justification to Majola. I am not saying that Bacher is pure as driven snow but I am wondering whether there is more to your views than meets the eye.

    The players (OK Smith) supported Majola because he always looked after the players (fairly sensible to a point)
    I am wondering whether there is not a little more to you having a go at Bacher and in so doing so defending Majola.

    Happy to wait until the article is posted.

  4. To your point in this article Neal, on this issue I agree with your views on the CSA.

    Leading up to Hansie getting caught there were tons of rumours in the cricket circles and the CSA (incl Bacher) stuck there head in the sand (at best).
    Interestingly even in that case cricket authorities had nothing to do with Hansie getting caught. It was the Indian police.
    If the CSA had acted on this sooner it may have turned out different.

    As for the short sentence for Gibbs and Williams, I have some sympathy (not a huge amount) with the SA authorities. There was not much precendent back then and plenty of occassions where other countries swept incidents under the carpet.
    Peronally I would have preferred a longer sentence but less than life.

    I would agree that an amnesty (conditional upon some financial restitution of ill gotten gains) would have been an excellent idea.
    If it was not needed (as the CSA said) then no-one would have come forward so it would have done no harm.
    I cannot believe that only Hansie, Herch and Henry were involved. Must have been others.

  5. "But Herschelle Gibbs, who admitted to trying to fix an innings in India in 2000 and still plays for the Cobras, received only a six-month ban from cricket."....Did you READ the book? He didn't actually go through with it....Make sure all your facts are correct before posting blog articles, douche.

  6. Facts are spot on thanks Anne, Gibbs was suspended for six months from cricket for doing exactly what Westfield admitted to. Was asked to fix a game, tried, failed to do it. But while several South Africans at the time (some of them still playing) cruised on to a further cricketing career, Westfield faces jail. Seems harsh. Perhaps CSA should declare an amnesty and we can finally find out how deep match-fixing went in the team under Hansie... and since. 438 ring a bell?

  7. And thanks for your comments David. Just feels like a carpet was used with a brush to tidy up. Brush wielded by a certain Dr Ali Bacher. Just writing about him now. Very interesting.

  8. Neal, Whilst I accept the similarities of the 2 cases one needs to acknowledge the passage of time

    If Westfield had committed his act pre-Hansiegate he may not be in nearly as much trouble.
    Conversely, if Gibbs did not listen to Hansie but he did the deed in 2009 he may have been in big trouble.

    Reading up on the ECB amnesty it does not seem like a complete amnesty but one whereby the failure to notify of appraches would receive amnesty. I dont think they are providing amnesty for actually fixing.

    re:438 - Dont think anything was wrong there

  9. Romford is not near London, Romford is IN London and has been since 1965.