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Cricket case prompts amnesty offer

Cricket bosses have launched an amnesty to allow players to report past corruption, as the first ever English county player to face a spot-fixing charge pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey.

Mervyn Westfield, 23, admitted taking £6,000 to bowl so that 12 runs would be scored in the first over of a match between Durham and Essex in September 2009, although in fact only 10 were chalked up.

A separate charge of assisting another person to cheat at gambling was ordered to lie on file.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has launched a "reporting window" to allow players and officials to give information on past approaches without fear of punishment. It is against ECB regulations not to report alleged corruption in the game.

ECB information manager Chris Watts said: "Information is critical in addressing the threat posed by corruption in sport. Individuals may not have thought these approaches were worthy of reporting at the time and prior to the decision of the Board may have been concerned that the fact that they did not report such activity may have put them at risk of disciplinary action."

Westfield will be sentenced on February 10, and Judge Anthony Morris warned him: "I hold out no promises to you as to the eventual outcome of this case. It's open to the court in this case to pass an immediate custodial sentence."

The former Essex player, of Chelmsford, Essex, currently remains on bail.

Judge Morris said that the name of the other party involved in the deal would be known to cricket fans, but it was not revealed in court.

Westfield is the first professional cricketer in England to face prosecution for his involvement in spot-fixing in a county cricket match, Essex Police said.

The case follows a separate trial in which three Pakistani cricketers were imprisoned for their roles in a match-fixing scam. Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were all sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in November for a plan to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test against England the previous summer.

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