October 6 2011

– Three top Pakistan cricketers motivated by ‘greed’ were caught red-handed conspiring to fix a Test at Lords in a £150,000 gambling scam, a court was told yesterday.

Former captain Salman Butt ordered two team-mates to bowl no-balls at specific moments in return for cash bribes, it was alleged.

He is accused of acting on the instructions of agent and former football club owner Mazhar Majeed, who took the money from a wealthy Indian businessman.

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt smiled as he made his way into court today on charges of spot fixing
Mohammad Asif also appeared in court where it was said the case exposed the 'rampant corruption the goes on in the game

Accused: Salman Butt, left, and Mohammad Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments in relation to a allegation they agreed to fix a Test at Lords Cricket Ground.

Bowler Mohammad Amir was described as being a crucial part of the scam although he was not in court today
Agent Mazhar Majeed was described as one of those that orchestrated the scheme

Absent: Bowler Mohammad Amir, left, and agent Mazhar Majeed were not in court but the jury was told there was nothing sinister in their absence from Southwark Crown Court in London.

But the businessman was an undercover reporter from the News of the World newspaper, who recorded damning conversations implicating all four men.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC said the defendants were deeply involved in ‘rampant corruption’ at the heart of the sport.

He said the men betrayed millions of fans to cash in on a betting industry worth up to £33billion a year on the Asian sub-continent alone.

As many as six Pakistani players were involved in the scam which spanned Pakistan, India, Dubai and Britain, the jury heard.

Mr Butt (centre) arriving at court earlier today. His contract was read out that said cricketers must immediately notify their manager and captain if they are approached by anyone who asks them to fix a match

At court: Mr Butt, centre, arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London. His contract was read out that said cricketers must immediately notify their manager and captain if they are approached by anyone who asks them to fix a match

Mr Jafferjee told Southwark Crown Court that the sums gambled overseas were ‘breathtaking’ and the men were motivated purely by greed.

He said: ‘This case reveals a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket, with the key players being members of the Pakistan cricket team.

‘There are vast amounts of money to be made in any betting activity if the results are known in advance, and all of that was at the expense of the integrity of the game.’

Allegations of match-fixing shook the sport to the core when the now defunct Sunday newspaper published the revelations in August last year.

Amir (left) arriving at court with his laywer. During the time of the alleged scam, and estimated $40bn to $50bn US dollars spent in the Indian sub-continent in one year alone

Court date: Amir (left) arrives with his laywer. During the time of the alleged scam, and estimated $40bn to $50bn US dollars spent in the Indian sub-continent in one year alone

Butt, 26, is accused of orchestrating the conspiracy with good friend and agent Majeed, 36, who then owned Croydon Athletic Football Club.

Prosecutors claim the two men told star bowlers Mohammad Asif, 29, and Mohammad Amir, 19, to bowl three no-balls at pre-arranged stages of the final Test at Lords.

Bets can be placed on when a bowler delivers a no-ball and the conspirators thought the inside knowledge would enable a Far Eastern gambling syndicate to cash in by betting vast sums on the unlikely turn of events.

But the damning deals and cash hand-outs were captured on hidden cameras used by reporter Mazhar Mahmood, famously known as the ‘fake sheikh’.

Scotland Yard detectives then unravelled a web of phone calls and incriminating text messages between the four men and unidentified fixers in India and Dubai.

The undercover reporter met Majeed on the pretext that he wanted to set up an all-star cricket tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

But their conversations, at hotels and restaurants in London, soon turned to match-fixing.

Majeed boasted that cheating was ‘the greatest business in the world’ and that he had six Pakistan players under his control.

He said a five-day Test could be fixed for £1million, while individual actions during play could cost up to £80,000 each.

A no-ball came with a £10,000 price tag.

The agent was recorded saying: ‘I’ve been doing it with them for about two-and-a-half years and we’ve made masses and masses of money.’

The men face up to seven years in prison if they are convicted of corruption and cheating.

It is alleged the group tried to fix parts of a test match at Lord's Cricket Ground last year

Allegations: The group is accused of trying to fix parts of a test match at Lord’s Cricket Ground last year.

– Chris Greenwood


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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