‘That Durham game has cost me my career’, reveals Mervyn Westfield

Image courtesy of: The Daily Mail

“If I can give back to anyone – kids, older people it doesn’t matter to me – as long as I can give something back”

Disgraced Essex pace bowler Mervyn Westfield has finally broken his silence over the chain of events that led to him indulging in spot-fixing and being slapped with a five-year ban by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Westfield revealed how Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria had introduced him to the idea of spot-fixing and coaxed him into getting involved in the illegal trade.

The ECB banned Kaneria for life and the leg-spinner lost his appeal against the ban in July this year.

Westfield also revealed how his four-month sentence in Belmarsh prison was “hell” for him, and it was made even worse when he found out that his father had cancer.

“I first met Danish at the age of 18 in the second year of my professional contract,” Westfield said. “He was a very bubbly person. Everyone liked him in the dressing room. He was a role model for most of the people in our team.

“Basically I was at his house and he asked if he could speak to me outside… that’s when he started first talking about it. He said it’s hard for a young person to get money nowadays in cricket and that’s how the conversation started.

“He suggested to me that a few people in the game were doing it as well. I felt confused because I didn’t really understand where he was coming from or what he was talking about. Him and his friends kept on asking and asking and I felt pressured into it and I sort of had to do it. I just felt so confused what was going.”

Westfield was made to concede 12 runs off an over in a 40-over match against Durham in September 2009, but despite not giving away that many runs, he was still paid the next morning.

He added that he refused to do it again when Essex played Somerset just five days later.

“When I bowled my first over, I didn’t even check the scoreboard to see if I went for 12 or more,” he said. “All the emotions going through my head, I was just confused about what was going on.

“Because Danish lived next to me he always gave me a lift home. It was late, it was three o’clock in the morning or something like that. He had two friends in the car as well and they had a black bag and they gave it to me with money.

“The next couple of days we went up to Somerset and they tried to get me to do that game as well but I said no definitely not this time. I was worried obviously if someone finds out a what’s going to happen to me and I love cricket and… I didn’t want to lose my career and obviously that Durham game has cost me my career.”

Westfield also noted that he was called into Essex’s HQ at Chelmsford after a training session, upon where he admitted what he had done to head coach Paul Grayson, chief executive David East and captain Mark Pettini.

Westfield’s confession was supposed to be kept private, but six months later it was leaked to the press and soon became public knowledge.

“I’m not trying to tell people to feel sorry for me… because what I’ve done is bad but not being able to play or coach any cricket is a massive shock for me,” he said. “I just want to rebuild my life.. and try and get back on track. If I can give back to anyone – kids, older people it doesn’t matter to me – as long as I can give something back.”

Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) assistant chief executive Jason Ratcliffe admitted that Westfield knows what he did was wrong and that the former Essex pace bowler is determined to “ensure nobody makes the same mistakes”.

“Mervyn recognizes that he did wrong and that the time is right to make amends within the cricket community to ensure nobody makes the same mistakes,” Ratcliffe said. “His moving interview is the first step of the education process and should serve as a timely reminder to all, that cricket and other sports will not let up in the fight against corrupters.”

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