Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

'Match fix' cricketer facing charge

Mervyn Westfield has been charged with conspiracy to defraud over claims that he deliberately played poorly

A former Essex county cricketer has been accused of fraud over claims he deliberately played poorly as part of a gambling swindle.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Mervyn Westfield, of Chelmsford, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud.

The 22-year-old pace bowler faces claims that he acted dishonestly during a one-day 40-over match between Durham and Essex on September 5, 2009.

Police investigated allegations surrounding spot betting, a niche area of gambling where people bet on specific occurrences in a game.

It is alleged that he dishonestly agreed to bowl his first over in such a way as to allow a certain number of runs to be scored.

Westfield conceded 60 runs in seven overs during the match, with four wides and two no-balls. It was broadcast live by Sky around the world.

A second player, Essex and Pakistan leg spinner Danish Kaneria, 29, was questioned over the claims but was told he will face no further action last week.

Westfield was charged when he answered bail at Rayleigh police station in Essex on Thursday, and will appear on bail at City of London Magistrates' Court next week.

Antony Swift, of the CPS, said: "I have advised that Mervyn Westfield should be charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud for intentionally playing other than to the best of his ability, contrary to his contractual obligations.

"I have made this decision after careful consideration of a file of evidence from Essex Police. There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Westfield and it is in the public interest to do so."