With a cricket World Cup now moving into the important rounds for the top 8 nations in the world it is understandable that there will be cricket news to slip under the radar such as Tasmania winning the Sheffield Shield for the 2nd time in its history, Raul Dravid lining up for the MCC against Nottinghamshire in the season opener and the trail of former Essex cricketer Mervyn Westfield accused of dishonesty in a 40 over county match in 2009.
How this has been swept under the carpet with the lead up to the new county season is beyond me! Had this had been a Pakistan or Indian player it would have made front page news. The News Of The World and other media outlets quite rightly jumped all over the red-faced Pakistan cricketers caught in the middle of the "no ball" scandal.
Mervyn Westfield it is alleged to have bowled a certain number of wides in a 40-over match against Durham last season, a match that screen live on Sky and had vast sums of money bet on the out come in the sub-continent. The ECB seems to have tried to forget about this scandal within its own competition and was partly saved by the Pakistan scandal happening at almost the same time as news of this broke.
With Mervyn now due in court, I think it is time that the ECB and other domestic competitions look into such behavior of players and officials. The County circuit is known for its poetic grounds and mid-week play in-front of 3 men and a dog, but if these 3 men have a vested interest in who is bowling wides & no balls who is to say that this is not happening else where during the season. A raft of international inquires could push the dodgy bookmaker away from the international dressing rooms and into the suburban outposts of county change rooms.
The other intriguing fact about this case is that Mervyn unlike his Pakistan counter parts continued to play cricket. The ICC leant on the Pakistan Board of Control to stop them from playing yet the ECB and ICC have not held Mervyn back one bit, so much so that he has continued to play for the 2nd XI and took four wickets in their one-day trophy final defeat of Lancashire. He has also been playing club cricket for Wanstead and was named their player of the year 2010. Mervyn's contract was not renewed for this season.
It baffles me that the County Championship has not come out with a statement of intent to look into any allegations, and take a hard line on anyone found to be involved in any form of match fixing no matter how trivial. This is a blight on the game of cricket at an international level and is clearly not just confined to Pakistan, we should looking to name and shame anyone involved in such a practice.
The offence of conspiracy to defraud, under the Criminal Justice Act 1987, carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years and an unlimited fine.