If I stay out of jail I can help others, says cricket cheat Westfield
Mervyn Westfield, the first English-born cricketer to be convicted of corruption, wants a chance to redeem himself by helping other young players avoid the professional game's pitfalls.
The 23-year-old Essex bowler, who could become the fourth player jailed for spot-fixing after pleading guilty to taking 6,000 to concede an agreed number of runs in a Pro40 match, will plead for clemency when he returns to face Mr Justice Anthony Morris at the Old Bailey on February 10.
Cricket cheat: Mervyn Westfield arrives at the Old Bailey
Westfield, once rated an England prospect, believes, if spared jail, he could turn his life around by helping others avoid his disastrous mistake, supporting the campaigns to combat cheating in sport, and, in particular, his own sport through the various educational initiatives being considered by the England Cricket Board and the Professional Cricketers' Association.
Danny Cundy, his solicitor, said last night: 'I think it would be nice if there was a hope that Mervyn could be in some way rehabilitated by having further contact with the game by part-educating young players and warning them off.
'I hope we can persuade the judge not to send him to prison by explaining that Mervyn can be put to far more useful purpose.
'There are many examples of young people who have gone wrong and have gone on to become very fine ambassadors for their sport when given a second chance.
'Mervyn has done nothing but play cricket from the age of six. The thought of him losing all of that for a moment's idiocy would be just a bit too much, I think.
'If we can convince the judge that if we keep him out of prison he can be put to good use, then it'd be good to persuade the ECB that he shouldn't be banned for life.'
Cundy's hope for a non-custodial sentence has been boosted by the ECB's three-month amnesty for players and officials to report approaches from suspected fixers.
Promising player: Mervyn Westfield celebrates a wicket for Essex
He said: 'The new amnesty would not sit very well with them taking such a Draconian line with one young player making one mistake.'
The plea for clemency by Westfield's legal team has been boosted by Nasser Hussain.
The former England and Essex captain is convinced Westfield can play a part in educating other cricketers, saying: 'The ECB should use him, take him around the counties, do a video with him. They should use him as an example for future generations of cricketers, that if you do get a call in your room saying: “Bowl a bad over and we will give you 6,000,” this is what happens to you.'