When it was brought to light that Essex all-rounder Mervyn Westfield accepted £6,000 to concede 12 runs in an over, despite the words reading clearly on the pages of newspapers, it was hard to believe, or at least hard to accept.

As feared, the accusations turned out to be valid, and Westfield will face time behind bars as the first ever British cricketer to be convicted of corruption. For the fixer, revealed to be a friend of Danish Kaneria, and the spot-fixing network, this will be a time of celebration, proof that Englishmen are just as vulnerable and susceptible to foul-play as the Pakistanis.

Whereas for English cricket, this is a shameful time, something that we'd like to forget but that needs addressing urgently.

It's ironic that just as Alistair Cook is making history in the UAE and English cricket is repairing the damage caused by the embarrassing Pakistan Test series, an English cricketer is found guilty of corruption. Cook must be experiencing some psychological discomfort, trying to enjoy his recent success with the bat while knowing that the former-team mate of his beloved Essex side are in the papers back home for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe England's ODI success is merely papering over the cracks of what is, or may become, a much more serious problem at the heart of cricket in this country. We've celebrated ODI success and the return of Kevin Pietersen, and rightly so, but while the team strive to remain superior to Pakistan on the pitch, Westfield has exposed the frailties of the anti-corruption measures in the English game which takes that superiority away.

As sad as it was to witness three talented Pakistani cricketers go down for such a shameful crime, the English didn't lose much sleep over it, safe in the knowledge that such a problem had never existed in our game. Claims of Strauss' men to be criminals in the same series were shot down as false and insignificant.

But now, those of us who have dismissed corruption as purely a sub-continental issue, now have to reconsider the integrity of the English game, and this, the ECB will lose sleep over. Granted, as far as we know, Westfield is the only English player to be involved in corruption, but even so, his lack of judgment and failure to report the approach gives spot-fixers hope of finding more vulnerable targets in England. 

So what to do now? The ECB have said they are not complacent about fixing, but it must come as a shock to see English cricket in the headlines for a story such as this. Westfield's case must be a warning to all forms of English cricket, as it has been made clear that low profile names are just as vulnerable, if not more so, to corruption abroad.

It is important that the ECB keeps an especially close eye on domestic cricket, for in the sub-continent, these matches seem to be eagerly followed for all the wrong reasons.


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