File photo of tainted former Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfield. (AP Photo)
London: Disgraced cricketer Mervyn Westfield on Wednesday said that he wants to help the next generation of players avoid succumbing to the lure of corruption as he did. The former Essex fast bowler had a five-year ban for spot-fixing relaxed on Tuesday, allowing him to return to club cricket in April next year, but he will remain suspended from the professional game until 2017.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) altered Westfield's punishment after rejecting his former Essex team-mate Danish Kaneria's second appeal against a lifetime ban for spot-fixing. Leg-spinner Kaneria was banned for what was termed the "cajoling and pressurising" of Westfield to concede an agreed number of runs during a 40-over match in Durham in 2009. Westfield subsequently spent eight weeks in jail after being found guilty in a criminal court. The ECB elected to relax his suspension on the condition that he follows an anti-corruption education programme.
"I'm sorry for what I've done," Westfield said in a statement released by the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA). I just want to put it right now and help identify the clear dangers that exist. Cricket has been my life since I was six, and it's all I know, what I love, and what I live for. I have missed playing so much."
The 25-year-old said he was eager to atone for his errors. "I hope people can forgive my actions and maybe even find it in themselves to understand how difficult I've found it to cope with every step of this affair," he said.
"I will now do all I can to help PCA and others to educate cricketers, especially young ones, to ensure nobody has to go through what I have."