LONDON  - An English cricketer who claimed to have been lured into a spot-fixing scandal by Pakistan international Danish Kaneria was on Friday jailed for four months. Former Essex player Mervyn Westfield had admitted receiving £6,000 ($9,200) to bowl badly so that 12 runs would be scored in the first over of a 40-over match between Durham and Essex in September 2009.
At a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday, prosecutors said Westfield became embroiled in the scam after an approach by Kaneria. Prosecutor Nigel Peters QC said the deal emerged after another Essex player, Tony Palladino, showed Westfield "the most money he had ever seen". Kaneria was arrested in connection with the case in 2010 but later released without charge.
Prosecutors in the case of former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield, who has pleaded guilty to spot-fixing and faces sentencing on Friday, said the player had been lured into the fix after an approach by Kaneria. The Old Bailey heard that Kaneria told Westfield he would be paid to concede a certain number of runs in a particular over.
Mark Milliken-Smith, lawyer for Westfield, told the court: "It is clear, we submit, that Kaneria and his associates targeted Westfield. 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 court was told other Essex players heard Kaneria talking about spot-fixing while Milliken-Smith told the court a "blind eye" was turned to the rumours.  Kaneria's lawyer Farogh Naseem brushed aside Westfield's claims. "I think we can only take any step once the inquiry is finished," Naseem told AFP in Karachi. "It is Westfield's words against Kaneria and a lot will depend on what evidences he puts before the court against my client."
Naseem reiterated that Kaneria had been cleared by the police. "At the time of the police inquiry, Kaneria was not charged and cleared. The ICC (International Cricket Council) cleared him so we feel that Kaneria was discharged in the case," he said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) withdrew Kaneria after he was selected for the series against South Africa in October 2010 and has since not cleared him for selection, apparently waiting for the Westfield inquiry to be completed.
Kaneria's petition against the PCB to revive his career was dismissed by the Sindh High court in November last year and despite vowing to take the case to higher courts, Kaneria has not made any progress. Kaneria was allowed to play domestic cricket, however, and has represented Sindh in the ongoing Pentangular Cup in Pakistan.
"The PCB will wait for the final judgement in Westfield's case," PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi told AFP. "If some solid evidences are brought before the PCB, only then will we take action. At the moment there is a status quo in Kaneria's case. Kaneria was not cleared by the integrity committee, which is required for every player to represent Pakistan."