Unfortunately for Cricket 2012 is starting with further news to add to the cloud that has hung over the game for the past 18 months. On top of the convictions for Butt, Asif and Ameer/Amir, the former Pakistan cricketers who were found guilty of spot fixing in the Lords test of 2010, there is set to be another conviction, this time for a domestic Pro40 game.
Mervyn Westfield, 23, has pleaded guilty having agreed to concede 12 runs in his first over of the match against Durham whilst playing for Essex in 2009. This "spot fixing" didn't effect the result, a century from a certain Alastair Cook and an excellent 83 off 47 balls from former England international James Foster meant Essex comfortably cruised home, despite Mr Westfield conceding 60 runs off his 7 overs.
The irony is he wasn't even successful in his bid to concede 12 runs, he only managed 10. The great thing about cricket with this is that it relies on two people, if the man down the other end just wants to watch a few deliveries to get himself set then you'll find it difficult to concede many runs and many players have found over the years no matter how hard you are trying to stop players scoring runs it is always possible for a batsman to best you.
I am pleased to see that once this was uncovered he has been tried and will be sentenced (on 10 February). I hope he faces equally stern punishment as the Pakistan players as even if the money involved isn't at the same level and the game wasn't as high profile it will still send a message to other players thinking of taking money to fix elements of the game. Even if an act has no relevance on the outcome of the match as a whole, by conspiring to do such a thing you are cheating to make money which must be at the expense of others, this is wrong and the full force of the law should be thrown at you.
As I've said before, I hope that these are instances of cricket really clamping down on the plague that has probably infested the game for so long (it's been over 10 years since the Hansie Cronje affair, which is apparently to reopen) rather than part of the signal of it's demise.