Alastair Cook's sadness at match fixing

First published in Sport

CRICKET: England captain and Essex star Alastair Cook has spoken of his personal sadness at the spot-fixing crime of his former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield.

Former Essex seamer Westfield was jailed for four months at the Old Bailey on Friday, after admitting receiving £6,000 in corrupt payments to deliberately bowl poorly in a match against Durham in September 2009.

Former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria, then of Essex, was described in court by Mark Milliken-Smith QC, for Westfield, as the person who “targeted” the seamer for a deal in which £6,000 was paid.

Kaneria was arrested in connection with the case but later released without charge, and maintains he is innocent.

Cook, who scored a century in the Durham fixture, was distressed to hear the claims concerning people who were once his county colleagues.

“It’s a terribly sad day for Essex County Cricket Club,” said Cook, who scored 80 as he skippered England to a nine-wicket win over Pakistan in the third one-day international in Dubai on Saturday.

“Personally knowing the guys involved makes it tough.

“As sportsmen, we have a duty to play in the right spirit and fairly for the public — who want to see both sides trying to win.”

England opener Cook, 27, has played for Essex throughout his professional career.

“It’s an incredibly sad day for cricket, and especially Essex,” he added.

“I’m an Essex boy through and through, and I love playing for Essex.

“To hear what’s going on makes me very sad.”

A statement from Essex Cricket Club 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.”

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