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Cricketer charged over 'match-fixing' claims

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 16 September 2010

Former Essex County cricketer Mervyn Westfield has been charged over match-fixing allegations, in what has been described as a wake-up call for English County cricket.

Former Essex County cricketer Mervyn Westfield

The 22-year-old is accused of bowling badly on purpose, to allow a certain number of runs at a one-day 40-over match between Durham and Essex on September 5 last year.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Westfield, of Chelmsford, had been charged with conspiracy to defraud, after he conceded 60 runs in seven overs during the match, with four wides and two no-balls.

Police investigated allegations of spot betting, which involves people betting on specific occurrences in a match.

The CPS said the decision to prosecute was in the public interest.

"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," Antony Swift, of the CPS, said.

"It is alleged that he dishonestly agreed to bowl his first over to allow the scoring of a certain number of runs at a match between Durham and Essex on September 5, 2009.

"I have made this decision to prosecute after careful consideration of a file of evidence from Essex Police."

Westfield was released by Essex in August after joining the first team squad in 2006.

The club issued a statement, saying the decision to release Westfield had no connection to police investigations.

"A decision was taken some weeks ago that Mervyn's playing contract was not to be renewed with the club for 2011. This decision was made purely on cricketing grounds and was not influenced in any way by the ongoing inquiry.

"We are very saddened by the news that Mervyn has been charged by Essex Police.

"We have not been privy to any of the evidence collected by the authorities, which is why no action was taken against the player whilst the inquiries were ongoing," the statement said.

Westfield is due to face the City of London Magistrates' Court next Thursday.

It is the latest in a string of corruption cases to rock the international cricketing world

Scotland Yard detectives are continuing investigations into claims the Pakistan cricket team deliberately bowled no balls during their tour of England.

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have been suspended by the ICC pending investigations, but they deny all claims.

A fourth player, Fast bowler Wahab Riaz, was also questioned by police.



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