How Westfield was 'groomed' for match-fixing

Bowler who had £6,000 in his cupboard claims team-mate Kaneria introduced him to men who said cheating was 'easy'

The contrast is acute.

On the one hand a young cricketer struggling to cling on to the coat-tails of a career failing to deliver on youthful promise, on the other a player at the peak of his powers, who had shone and starred across the game's highest echelons. For Mervyn Westfield it seemed a welcome fillip to be ushered into Danesh Kaneria's inner circle, befriended by a man who was at the heart of the Essex side and one considered one of the best bowlers in the game.

By 2009, Kaneria was a fixture in the Essex dressing room, the team's match-winner with his world-class leg-spin. Westfield had been longer with the club but had done little to justify a prediction made by an informed observer during a youth cricket festival that he might one day open the bowling for England. He had managed only a handful of first-class and one-day appearances for the county of his birth; when he was released by Essex in 2010 he had played a total of 15 first-team games.

But, according to Essex team-mates, during the summer of 2009 a friendship began to blossom. Kaneria would invite Westfield to his house, take him out for meals and nights out in Chelmsford. "Merv and Danesh seemed to be hanging around a lot more at the end of the season," said David Masters, the Essex bowler, in a statement read out in court.

According to Mark Milliken-Smith, QC for Westfield, it was no friendship. It was "grooming maybe... targeting it certainly was". Kaneria has always denied any wrongdoing and no criminal charges were brought against him.

Towards the end of the long county season, before Essex embarked on a round of three Pro40 matches in quick succession, against Somerset, Durham and Hampshire, Kaneria rang Westfield and suggested a night out. Kaneria drove to Westfield's house in Chelmsford and then said he'd had a change of mind – why didn't they just go back to Kaneria's house and get a takeaway? There were two other men waiting. Kaneria introduced them as friends from India.

During the evening, Kaneria, it was alleged in court yesterday, took Westfield aside. According to Westfield, Kaneria said to him that "for a young man it was hard to make money these days". He went on to say that these two men would, as Milliken-Smith put it, "pay for cricketers to play in a particular way". The four men went to a nightclub where Kaneria's friends picked up the bill.

Soon after one of the men appeared after a training session at the county's Chelmsford ground and spoke to Westfield. Kaneria, claims Westfield, later said that this was the "quickest way to make money". Before the team left for Durham, Westfield said that he returned to Kaneria's house. One of the men was there and told Westfield that the bets had already been placed. "It's easy," said the man.

Westfield met them again in a hotel in Durham on the eve of the game, which was being shown live in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The pressure, according to Milliken-Smith, was relentless. Westfield agreed that he would concede more than 12 runs off his first over. "It was," suggested Milliken-Smith of Kaneria's alleged part, "an abuse of power and position to inveigle Westfield into Kaneria's plans".

In the event the over against Durham on 5 September went for 10 runs, but Westfield was paid. Nine days later Westfield and another young team-mate, Tony Palladino, went out for the night in Chelmsford. They returned late that night to Westfield's house with two women. Westfield told Palladino he wanted to show him something and the two men went into his bedroom. Westfield took a plastic bag out of his wardrobe and tipped the contents on to the bed. Palladino later described it as the most money he had seen, £6,000 in £50 notes.

Palladino was shocked. He told two other Essex players, Chris Wright and Adam Wheater, what he had seen and what Westfield had told him. But it was not until the following March that any official complaint was made. Palladino spent the close season playing in Namibia, but by the time the squad reassembled in Chelmsford in March to begin preparations for the 2010 campaign, rumours were spreading around the dressing room.

David Masters, one of the county's more experienced players, had heard the rumours and told Mark Pettini, the captain. Finally the story worked its way up the chain of command through Paul Grayson, the coach, the Essex management and on to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

On 29 March Westfield was arrested. Kaneria too was interviewed by Essex police but not charged. At first Westfield denied any wrongdoing and denied Kaneria had approached him. Further police investigation revealed a savings account in Westfield's name. In the two years after it was opened in August 2007 the account never contained more than £1,500. Then on 11 September, six days after the Durham game, £1,000 in cash was deposited, the following day another £1,000 and in the following days similar sums.

On 14 May Westfield was arrested again and in September he was charged. It was not until the middle of December that he changed his plea to guilty. The police decided there was no evidence to charge Kaneria. But yesterday in court dramatically called into question the reputation of the Pakistan player, and damned the casual attitude around Essex in addressing the issue.

Masters recalled, in a statement, a car journey en route to a game in Somerset with Kaneria, the former England wicketkeeper James Foster and Pettini. Kaneria talked about "people he knew who would pay to influence a match". Masters said Kaneria often "joked" about getting cash to fix a game, but it was generally assumed around the club that it was "friendly banter".

Most tellingly in relation to the path Westfield chose, Varun Chopra, another young player now with Warwickshire, described how Kaneria had spoken to him. "I remember in August 2009, the weekend before a game against Hampshire, getting a call from Danny," Chopra said. Kaneria began by asking about a night out but went on to suggest "you can make a lot of money". "I laughed it off," said Chopra.

Kaneria persisted but Chopra ignored him. This morning Westfield must wish he had done the same.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin