Essex

Danish Kaneria named in Mervyn Westfield cricket scam

Danish Kaneria
Image caption Danish Kaneria was arrested but not charged during the investigation

A former Pakistani international cricketer was named in court as the go-between who persuaded an Essex player to take part in a spot betting scam.

Mervyn Westfield, 23, has admitted being paid £6,000 to bowl so a specific number of runs would be chalked up in a county one-day game.

The deal emerged through team-mate Danish Kaneria, the Old Bailey heard. He was arrested but not charged.

The scam took place in a match between Durham and Essex in September 2009.

It emerged when another Essex player, Tony Palladino, went back to Westfield's Chelmsford flat in September 2009, where the bowler showed him "the most money he had ever seen", prosecutor Nigel Peters QC said.

'Pressured' to get involved

The court heard Kaneria, who first joined Essex in 2005, was warned in 2008 by the ICC that he was keeping "highly inappropriate company".

Mark Milliken-Smith QC, for Westfield, told the court: "It is clear, we submit, that Kaneria and his associates targeted Westfield.

Image caption Mervyn Westfield admitted the corruption charge

"Westfield was on the verge of the squad, more susceptible for that reason. Less likely perhaps to be able to say no to the club's international star, his future with the club uncertain."

The match was one of the first televised games that Westfield had played in.

Mr Milliken-Smith said Kaneria took Westfield out to dinner with some friends, and said he had a way that the young cricketer could make money more quickly.

He said Westfield felt "pressured" to become involved as discussions intensified.

The day before the game, the fast bowler, then 21, was told that people had bet money on the match and that if he did not agree to the deal they would lose out.

'Bitter regret'

The court was told other Essex players had heard Kaneria mentioning spot-fixing but dismissed what he was saying as "banter".

Varun Chopra said that in a phone call in August 2009 Kaneria told him "There's ways of making money, you don't have to lose a game". He ignored the alleged approach.

Mr Milliken-Smith told the court that despite these rumours at Essex County Cricket Club, a "blind eye" was turned, and opportunities to report the allegations were initially missed.

Westfield pleaded guilty last month to one count of accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs.

Mr Milliken-Smith said Westfield, who has played the sport since he was six, was "an Essex cricketer through and through".

"He bitterly regrets what he has done, he is utterly ashamed," he said.

"The shame and regret he feels is evidenced at least in part by his admissions as to his involvement to this court."

He has received an interim suspension order from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

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