Westfield set to meet ECB
Mervyn Westfield, the former Essex bowler, is to hold a meeting with the ECB on Thursday afternoon as attempts continue to persuade him to give evidence at Danish Kaneria's appeal hearing.
Westfield, whose evidence was crucial in the original hearing that found Kaneria guilty of corruption, has had no contact with the ECB for many months and has so far resisted all attempts to persuade him to appear at the appeal. While the ECB was successful in gaining a summons from the High Court compelling Westfield to attend the appeal hearing on April 22, doubts remain as to whether the court has any jurisdiction in this case.
Westfield remains angry with the ECB and the PCA. He feels that the harshness of his penalty - he spent two months in prison and was banned from the first-class game for five years and the recreational game for three - does not reflect that he cooperated with the investigating authorities, pleaded guilty and gave evidence against Kaneria.
The fact that he has agreed to meet the ECB suggests a deal could be imminent, however. Westfield is understood to desire a return to club cricket - he remains connected with Wanstead Cricket Club in the Essex League - and he could be offered a chance to partially revive his career if he cooperates. Westfield would be expected to earn several hundred pounds a week as a club professional.
Kaneria, the Pakistan legspinner, was banned from the game for life and charged £100,000 in costs by an ECB panel in June 2012 for his part in the spot-fixing case involving Westfield.
Kaneria had been found guilty of inducing his former Essex team-mate to underperform in a limited-overs game in 2009 and of bringing the game into disrepute. Westfield, who was jailed for his role in the case, gave evidence against Kaneria at the hearing.
As all boards under the governance of the ICC have an agreement to mirror bans imposed in such circumstances, Kaneria's ban has been effective worldwide.
Kaneria's appeal hearing was originally scheduled for December but, after the ECB was unable to gain Westfield's cooperation, it was postponed until April. Without Westfield's evidence, the ECB's case against Kaneria is severely compromised. Kaneria's lawyers are looking not just for his ban to be overturned - at 32, he harbours hopes of a reviving his international career - but they are also claiming "very substantial damages" from the ECB.
Kaneria returned to the UK on Wednesday. His lawyers remain adamant that, without Westfield's evidence, the ECB "has no case".
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo