The Sports Matrix: Friday 13 January 2012


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The Independent Online

Players given amnesty following Westfield case

English cricketers were last night granted a three-month amnesty to report corruption in the game. The offer was made by the England and Wales Cricket Board after the former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe to bowl badly during a match in 2009. Westfield faces a prison term when he is sentenced next month.

In a last-minute change of plea, he admitted at the Old Bailey yesterday to receiving corrupt payments for an over he bowled in a Pro40 match against Durham at Chester-le-Street. The match was played in September 2009. Since Westfield was first accused in 2010, he had steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. The ECB, anxious to ensure that match-rigging is not widespread in the domestic game, acted hours after the hearing. Players and officials are to be offered a window until 30 April to report approaches or information related to corrupt activities.

"Information is critical in addressing the threat posed by corruption in sport," Chris Watts, who has run the ECB's anti-corruption commission since last November, said. "The decision of the board to provide a window for retrospective reporting of alleged approaches will assist in compiling a more complete picture of the source and focus of approaches which may have taken place in the past." MORE

Van der Vaart: We can win the league

The Tottenham forward Rafael van der Vaart admits that his team-mates are confident about their title challenge. "Everybody believes we can win the League, absolutely," he said. "We know we are good." Spurs are only three points off the top. MORE

Tevez keen to revive Milan deal

Carlos Tevez is still hopeful that his move to Milan can be revived after Manchester City's demands for a transfer fee of over €25m (£21m) led to the collapse of the latest round of negotiations. Tevez is thought to have agreed personal terms with the Italians. MORE

Panesar bowls way into contention

Monty Pansear yesterday gave England a dilemma for the first Test against Pakistan taking 5 for 57 in a warm-up match against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI. He is unlikely to displace Graeme Swann but England may play two spinners. MORE

PCA: Game must repel corruption

Professional Cricketers' Association chief Angus Porter says that cricket has to be more vigilant: "I am sure there are people willing to make approaches. We have to make sure we lock our doors, turn on the burglar alarm and make the burglar go away."

Chelsea making Cahill 'progress'

The Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said yesterday that the club were making "making good, solid progress" on the signing of Gary Cahill from Bolton. Current Chelsea centre-back Alex is the subject of a £3m bid from QPR but Chelsea want more. MORE

Barry: City should ignore title rivals

Gareth Barry has told Manchester City to focus on their title challenge and to ignore their rivals Manchester United and Tottenham. "It has to be all about us now and we can't really worry about other teams. We should be focusing entirely on ourselves." MORE

Newcastle appoint Gold and Ford

Newcastle last night appointed the former South Africa coach Gary Gold as director of rugby for the rest of the season, assisted by Mike Ford, who recently left the England coaching team. The pair are aiming to protect Newcastle's top-flight status. MORE

Lendl 'will be good for Murray'

Darren Cahill, former coach of Andre Agassi, believes Andy Murray has made the right choice of coach in Ivan Lendl. "I think it is going to be a great association," he said. "Lendl has been incredibly fastidious with everything he has done with Andy." MORE

Speed deputies to get game in charge

Wales are set to entrust the late Gary Speed's back-room staff of Raymond Verheijen and Osian Roberts with charge of the team for next month's memorial match with Costa Rica, in keeping with Aaron Ramsey's wishes.  MORE

Opinion: Angus Fraser

If Mervyn Westfield's sentence is custodial, sizeable shockwaves will reverberate through county cricket, as with last year when three Pakistan cricketers were jailed. That ruling made everyone take a step back. MORE