Stephen Brenkley: The sentence will never end for the man who broke sport's unspoken contract


Wherever he goes and whatever he does in the rest of his life, Mervyn Westfield will always be the man who cheated at cricket.

In two months he will be out of prison, having served the sentence imposed yesterday for his part in a betting scam.

But it will not end there and it will never end. Crowded rooms will go silent when he walks in, friends, or those who stick by him, will view him differently. The crime he committed, taking money in exchange for deliberately bowling badly in a match for Essex in 2009, is of a kind always viewed as especially heinous.

Players are allowed to perform indifferently because it is that glorious uncertainty that makes sport worth playing. But to agree to play deliberately badly is to break the unspoken contract between player and spectator. As it happens, Essex won the unsung Pro40 game at Durham in August 2009 when Westfield bowled a duff first over. Although it went for 10 runs when it was supposed to go for 12 he received the £6,000 bribe, perhaps as a down-payment for future days.

Westfield was unlucky. He came under the influence of Danish Kaneria, the Pakistani leg-spinner about whom rumours had circulated for years. Kaneria has not been charged through lack of evidence but he will never play for Pakistan again. He is still playing for Sind – indeed he led them this week in Rawalpindi in the Faysal Bank Pentangular Cup.

The Pakistan Cricket Board feel they can take no action for an offence that is alleged to have taken place under another board's jurisdiction. You can see their point. But there is a feeling that they may make Kaneria's life a little more uncomfortable.

Given the history of match fixing involving Pakistani players, and the scandal that rocked cricket in the early part of the century, Essex's conduct appears to be astonishing. The county issued a mealy-mouthed statement after the case was concluded yesterday. It said: "This is a very sad day for all at the club. It is going to take a while for us to fully digest the comments of the judge, but as the ECB Cricket Discipline Committee has served Mervyn Westfield with an interim suspension as a result of his sentencing earlier today, the club is unable to comment on any aspect of this case."

That is a lack of action which has bedevilled them throughout. The court heard that Kaneria made regular references to spot-fixing but that senior players thought it was banter. Meanwhile Westfield, and possibly others, were being quietly groomed.

Kaneria played for Essex for six out of the seven seasons between 2004-2010 when his colleagues included the man who is now England's coach, Andy Flower, and their one-day captain, Alastair Cook, both men of undoubted probity.

Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
love + sex
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Fay Weldon suggested authors should tailor their work for Kindle readers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers