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Westfield allowed back in minor cricket

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Mervyn Westfield

Mervyn Westfield played seven first-class matches for Essex before he was banned from professional cricket in 2012

Mervyn Westfield can play county second XI or minor counties cricket this year as he tries to rebuild his career after being found guilty of spot-fixing.

The fast bowler served eight weeks in prison and was banned from professional cricket for five years in 2012.

Westfield has been playing for Essex club side Frinton since 2014.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has now given the 27-year-old special dispensation to play at a higher level in the year before his ban expires.

“I’m really happy to play minor counties and second XI again – if anyone gives me the opportunity to do it,” he told BBC Sport.

Westfield was punished for accepting £6,000 to deliberately bowl badly in a one-day game for Essex against Durham in 2009.

The ECB 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).

“I’m probably a little bit rusty,” said Westfield, who has been working as a scaffolder. “My body didn’t used to ache as much as it does now, but I’m training hard and trying to get back my fitness.

“This summer I’ll probably get the odd bit of banter, but I’ll just have to distance it and get on, just focus on what I’m trying to do, score runs and take wickets.

“I’ve done wrong. I’m just trying to fix it now and obviously I’m happy I’m back playing cricket.”

The dispensation from the ECB is in recognition of the education work he has done with the PCA.

This week he again addressed the ‘rookie camp’ of new English professionals in Birmingham, after travelling to South Africa last year to talk to players there.

“Mervyn definitely paid the penalty,” said PCA assistant chief executive Jason Ratcliffe. “Of all the players who’ve fallen foul of the anti-corruption rules in recent years, Mervyn’s done more to try to redeem himself than anybody.

“Mervyn’s story is very powerful when he comes to talk to young cricketers. Without doubt he’s played a massive part in education in England.”

The PCA concedes it is a “long shot” that Westfield would earn a full first-class contract in the future, but it hopes he can put himself “in the shop window”.

The ECB’s cricket disciplinary committee chairman, Gerard Elias, said Westfield had “made a real and substantial effort” that shows his “continuing remorse and a genuine desire on his part to repay cricket for the harm caused by his actions”.

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BBC Sport – Cricket