ICC chief says jail for Mervyn Westfield would help corruption fight

By Joe WilsonBBC Sport

International Cricket Council chief Haroon Lorgat has told the BBC he would welcome a prison sentence for former Essex player Mervyn Westfield.

Westfield pleaded guilty to taking corrupt payments this month.

Lorgat compared his case with the corruption trial that followed Pakistan's 2010 series in England.

He said: "If what happens to him is what happened to the Pakistan players a lot more attention will be paid to the fact you can end up in jail."

In November, former Pakistan Test cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir all received jail sentences for their part in a spot-fixing conspiracy.

Westfield, who will be sentenced on 10 February, is the first English cricketer to be convicted of spot fixing and Lorgat would not speculate on what sentence he might receive, but he agreed that a jail term "would help" the fight against corruption.

Lorgat is due to step down from his role at the top of world cricket in June and says spot fixing has been the "most significant challenge" of his time as chief executive.

Earlier, he told Jonathan Agnew on BBC Test Match Special: "You cannot underestimate the value of protecting your integrity and the reputation of the game and if that was to go we've got no game.

"It would be the most significant issue we need to tackle.

"I think we have shown we will not rest until we do tackle this issue but I don't believe it is as widespread as some people make it out to be.

"The evidence that we see does not suggest that.

"Having said that, I've got a particular concern that the fact we have tightened it up around the international circuit [means] it's possible it could be moving down to the domestic scene."

Meanwhile Lorgat praised England and Pakistan for their "responsible" stance over Saeed Ajmal's bowling action in the first Test in Dubai.

Both teams sought to play down the issue after the legality of his action was raised, chiefly by former England captain Bob Willis.

Lorgat said it would be wrong to focus on the issue.

"I think it reminds me of the time when England were bowled out by Waqar Younis," he said.

"Geoffrey Boycott said stop complaining about the ball and learn to bat. I think there's a process in place and the umpires will deal with it if it needs to be dealt with."