THE jury in the trial of a cricketer accused of raping a sleeping woman has retired to consider its verdicts.

Former Worcestershire all-rounder Alex Hepburn denies raping the woman in April 2017, claiming they had consensual sex in which she "actively engaged" after opening her eyes and kissing him.

The Crown claims the 23-year-old began to rape the woman while she was asleep in his best friend's bed after he became "fired up" by a competition to sleep with the most women.

In her evidence to the court on Tuesday, the woman, who cannot be identified, told the court she was initially asleep during the alleged attack and then wrongly assumed Hepburn was his then team-mate Joe Clarke.

The woman, who had earlier had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Mr Clarke at the cricketers' flat, was horrified when she realised she was in bed with Hepburn, the jury heard.

More: Cricketer Alex Hepburn cries in dock as he denies rape

Hepburn, of Portland Street, Worcester, told the city's Crown Court on Wednesday that he only saw the woman was in his team-mate's room after getting into bed beside her.

Prosecutors allege Hepburn was motivated by a sexual conquest "game" - after setting up a "stat chat" page on WhatsApp to keep a record of sex with women.

During his evidence, Hepburn - who was born in Western Australia and moved to England in 2013 to pursue his cricket career - fought back tears while being asked about the WhatsApp group.

He said he was "completely embarrassed" by comments he made on the chat group, describing it as immature chat between friends.

At Worcester Crown Court this morning, Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said in her closing speech: “it’s a sad indictment of a sport that has been thought of as a sport of gentleman.”

Miss Moore told the jury the court was ‘not a place for sympathy’ after Hepburn said he had lost his cricketing career as a result of the allegations.

She asked the jury to consider whether former Worcestershire County cricketer Joe Clarke, Hepburn’s best friend, was ‘here with an agenda’ and there was evidence he had told the complainant not to call the police.

Miss Moore said: “I’m sure Mr Hepburn is mortified that the world knows about he and others behave. He’s embarrassed and ashamed now but he wasn’t then.”

Miss Moore said the complainant had given no previous inkling of fancying Hepburn and had pushed him off as soon as she realised the man in bed with her was not Mr Clarke.

She said: “There’s not a shred of evidence she did consent to have a sexual encounter with Alex Hepburn.”

Miss Moore also emphasised Hepburn’s no comment interview and his prepared statement which she said was ‘precious thin on detail.’

She told the jury: “She was just a disposable object he found in his best friend’s bed.”

However Michelle Heeley QC for Hepburn reminded the jury that the burden of proof lay with the prosecution and acknowledged the WhatsApp messages were ‘deeply unpleasant’ and that Hepburn sleeping naked with Joe Clarke ‘may be distasteful’.

But she added: “That doesn’t make him a rapist.”

She added: “It’s a very large step from being a sexist lad to being a rapist.”

Miss Heeley stressed that the complainant’s evidence was affected by the alcohol she had consumed and she could not initially remember whether she and Mr Clarke had had sex.

Miss Heeley said by the time the woman had sex with Hepburn it would be even lighter in the room and asked how she would know it was getting lighter if she kept her eyes closed during sex with Hepburn.

Miss Heeley said Hepburn ‘did not pretend to be anyone other than himself’.

“He did not in any way try to deceive her” said Miss Heeley.

More: Alleged victim breaks down as she testifies in Alex Hepburn rape trial

Before the jury retired to consider its verdicts on two counts of rape just before 11.30am, Judge Jim Tindal said the panel would have "no deadlines" and should take its time discussing the case.

During his summing up, the judge said Hepburn had posted the rules of the game to the WhatsApp group five days before the alleged rape.

The game had been played during the previous season, the judge said, adding: "It was effectively a competition - and I regret to use this word but it seems to be accurate - to 'collect' as many sexual conquests

as possible.

"It's about 'collecting' new girls - to them, 'freshies', as they put it."