In the Media

Pakistan cricketers were motivated by 'greed' to 'betray' their team

PUBLISHED October 5, 2011

? Salman Butt and Mazhar Majeed "central" to conspiracy ? Bowlers were orchestrated by their captain, prosecutors claim Three Pakistan cricketers accepted bribes to bowl deliberate no-balls in a gambling scandal that exposes "rampant corruption" at the heart of international cricket, a court heard today. The former captain Salman Butt, 26, and the fast bowlers Mohammad Asif, 28, and Mohammad Amir, 19, are accused of conspiring with an UK-based sports agent, Mazhar Majeed, 36, to fix parts of the Lord's Test during last year's tour of England, Southwark crown court in London was told. The four men were motivated by greed to "contaminate" a match watched by millions of people and "betray" their team, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the sport itself, it was claimed. The prosecutor, Aftab Jafferjee QC, said there were "simply breathtaking" sums of money involved in foreign betting markets, with an estimated $40bn-$50bn (?26bn-?32bn) spent in the Indian subcontinent in one year alone. "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," he claimed. "Those involved in this plot ? which is effectively what a conspiracy is ? lent themselves willingly, and for financial gain, to fix not just the outcome of the match but, in particular, aspects within each match on a day-by-day basis." He told the court the cricketers' alleged corrupt activities were "underpinned" by the overseas betting industry, in particular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the far east. "There are of course 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," he said. The case centres on the Test match between Pakistan and England at Lord's in London from 26 to 29 August last year, the court heard. The four men are accused of spot fixing, where parts of a match are illegally rigged, say, by timing the delivery of a deliberate wide or no-ball, but the overall outcome of the game is not manipulated. Mr Jafferjee said Butt and Majeed were "central" to the conspiracy but could not have carried out their corrupt practices without the participation of Asif and Amir, Pakistan's leading fast bowlers. "It is the prosecution's case that all four men were involved," he said. "And by the time the last Test match at Lord's took place, each of them was well at it, the two bowlers being orchestrated by their captain and the captain's agent, Majeed, to bowl three no-balls at a pre-arranged point in the game... "The bowlers were willing participants so that they could all profit, those lower down the ladder probably profiting less than those at the top." The jury of six men and six women was told that only Butt and Asif were on trial, but Mr Jafferjee stressed there was "nothing sinister" in the absence of Majeed and Amir from the proceedings. Butt and Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments between 15 and 29 August last year. The case continues. Pakistan cricket betting scandal Cricket Sport betting Crime © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds