A CRICKETER accused of raping a young woman in his best friend's bed wept in the witness box.

Former Worcestershire County cricketer Alex Hepburn gave evidence during his trial at Worcester Crown Court yesterday, telling the jury he believed the woman knew she was having sex with him in a city flat, not his ex teammate and best friend, Joe Clarke.

Mr Clarke had also had sex with the woman on the same mattress earlier that morning before he fell asleep in a bathroom where he had gone to be sick.

Hepburn, 23, told the jury the woman instigated sex, rolled over and kissed him on a mattress in a Worcester flat and that he responded.

He said he did not realise there was woman in the bed (which he had intended to share with Mr Clarke) when he got undressed and climbed onto the mattress.

The Australian, of Portland Street, Diglis, Worcester, denies two counts of rape on April 1, 2017.

Hepburn, originally from Western Australia, came to Worcester in 2013 and has played professional cricket for five years.

He was questioned by his barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, telling the jury he had devised the rules of ‘the game’, a competition to have sex with as many women as possible in Worcester.

However, he told the jury he did not set up the WhatsApp group in which the game was discussed. The group had three members, including Joe Clarke, and was established on March 27, 2017, a few days before the alleged rapes.

His voice cracking with emotion, Hepburn said of the messages: “I’m completely embarrassed my family has had to see them.”

One of the messages from Hepburn in the group chat read: “Always been me dragging birds back, you (Joe Clarke) raping them.” The message was followed by four laughing face emojis. He also made references to previous threesomes involving himself and Mr Clarke. He told the jury he and Mr Clarke often sleep naked together in the same bed.

He said from the witness box: “It didn’t mean anything. It was us bragging to each other, boasting inappropriately, immaturely.”

When he returned to the flat he said he saw Mr Clarke in the bathroom through the door which was ajar before he got undressed and got onto the mattress.

"I got into bed. That's when I first realised there was a woman in the bed," he said.

Hepburn said he was 'drunk' and described the light in the room as 'dim' but bright enough to recognise the woman.

Hepburn said: "She rolled over towards myself. She kissed me."

The defendant said her eyes were open before she kissed him and that he did not speak,. He said she performed a sex act upon him before they had sex. In total he said sex lasted 20 minutes. When Hepburn was asked how he knew she was enjoying the sex, he said because she was 'actively engaging' and from the noises she was making.

Hepburn said the woman asked him what he was doing and pushed him off to which he replied 'What do you mean?'

The woman asked him where Mr Clarke was and Hepburn said he put his hand on her thigh and said 'come on' and was under the impression that what he had been doing was 'absolutely normal'.

Hepburn described the woman entering the ensuite bathroom and leaving 'distressed'.

Breaking down again, Hepburn said: "She said the words 'you're a sick bastard. You just raped me' which I completely denied."

Hepburn, who cried and rubbed his eyes, said he remained in bed, describing himself as 'confused' and after that he heard Mr Clarke yelling 'Alex!'

Mr Clarke asked him if he had raped the woman and Hepburn said he told him 'no'.

Hepburn told the jury: "I believe she knew it was me."

But Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said Hepburn had thought the WhatsApp messages were 'fun' and that he had not been embarrassed when he wrote them.

Miss Moore said: "The only thing that stopped you behaving like that is the police finding these messages on your phone, correct?"

She added: "You would have played 'the game' on and on because you and your mates thought you were God's gift to the women of Worcester, didn't you?"

Hepburn denied this was the case. Miss Moore said he had been 'the author and architect' of the game and was asked who had designed it. Hepburn replied 'a bunch of us'. She also referred to the rules of the game in which only new conquests (called 'freshies') counted towards the tally rather than 'reheats' (women group members had already slept with).

Hepburn said women they had sex with had to be 'legit' which he said in his evidence meant prostitutes did not count towards the total.

Hepburn admitted that he and others had played the game the previous year with around five to six others and that Mr Clarke had finished first and Hepburn second.

Miss Moore told Hepburn he was lying when he said he did not know there was anyone else in the bed.

Miss Moore said: "You decided to take your chance with her, to not only get a score in the game but to get one over on your mate who had won last year."

Hepburn said: "That's not true."

Miss Moore asked about why he had remained in bed after the woman had accused him of rape. She said: "I suggest this was arrogance on your part. You have had sex with this girl against her will. She has accused you and you think nothing will come of this and just go back to bed."

Hepburn said this was untrue and he had been confused. He wept when he revealed he no longer played professional cricket because of the allegations.

The trial continues.