Mervyn Westfield ‘deserves’ his Suffolk lifeline after return from ban

Mervyn Westfield (Frinton On Sea)

Mervyn Westfield (Frinton On Sea) - Credit: James Ager

Suffolk Cricket Club did not hesitate to sign former convicted spot-fixer Mervyn Westfield when his ban was relaxed this week.

Frinton's Mervyn Westfield bowls to Tyler Lortan during the Frinton on Sea v Bury St Edmunds (East A

Frinton's Mervyn Westfield bowls to Tyler Lortan during the Frinton on Sea v Bury St Edmunds (East Anglian Premier League) cricket match at Frinton on Sea, Essex, UK on 20th June 2015. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The 27-year-old served eight weeks in prison and was banned from professional cricket for five years in 2012 after he was found guilty of accepting £6,000 to deliberately bowl badly in a one-day game for Essex against Durham in 2009.

The England and Wales Cricket Board subsequently reduced his club cricket suspension to two years after he agreed to take part in an anti-corruption programme run by the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) though.

And, after earning several good character references during a two-year stint with Essex side Frinton, the ECB decided on Thursday to give him special dispensation to play at County Second XI or Minor Counties level for the next 12 months.

Toby Pound, Suffolk Cricket Club’s secretary, said: “We discussed Mervyn at our last committee meeting, but we had no idea then that he would become eligible at this stage.

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“When the disciplinary committee made their decision on Thursday we didn’t hesitate in getting in touch.

“All the noises coming out of Frinton and the ECB about Mervyn have been very positive. He accepted his punishment and has worked really hard at being a good role model and has gone a long way to redeeming himself.

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“It’s exciting for us to have someone of his ability and hopefully he can use this as a stepping stone towards his ultimate goal of getting back into the First Class game.”

Mark Jones was captain of the Frinton side that Westfield helped earn promotion from the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties and then finish second in the club’s debut campaign at East Anglian Premier League level.

He said: “We were very fortunate to have Mervyn for the last two years and he was a big part of the club’s success. On and off the field he was great for me as a captain.

“He knows he made a massive mistake and he’s trying really hard to rectify that. He really helped the club’s younger players and was an excellent role model. I think he deserves this chance to rebuild his career.”

Jones added: “We only saw it in glimpses, because his fitness isn’t as good as it was when he was full-time, but on his day he was head and shoulders above everyone in that division.

“He may actually come back from this ban a better player because his batting improved massively with us. He’s a genuine all-rounder now.

“To be honest, he should still be a First Class cricketer. He’ll certainly be one of the best players at Minor Counties level this year, I have no doubt about that.

“Suffolk have already got some really good players and I think they’ll be a real force this year.”

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