Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cricketer agent in 'grooming' boast

Pakistan's former Test captain Salman Butt is alleged to have been involved in a plot to fix games

A cricket agent boasted that seven players in Pakistan's national side were fixing matches for him in a hugely lucrative betting scam, a court has heard.

Mazhar Majeed, 36, spoke of the advantages of "grooming" younger cricketers to work with him as they would be "around for years", Southwark Crown Court was told.

Prosecutors alleged that he also discussed deliberately losing a Test match against England last summer for a million dollars and plotted to fix games at last year's Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.

Majeed allegedly conspired with Pakistan's former Test captain, Salman Butt, 26, and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif, 28, and Mohammad Amir, 19, to rig parts of a game during Pakistan's tour of England last year after being paid £150,000 by an undercover journalist.

In discussions with the reporter about illegal match-fixing, the agent named "his" players as Butt, Asif, Amir, fellow fast bowler Wahab Riaz, wicket keeper Kamran Akmal, and batsmen Umar Akmal and Imran Farhat, the court heard.

Majeed, of Croydon, south London, allegedly said there was a "little question mark" about Farhat, telling the journalist: "We don't give him the whole picture."

The prosecution claimed that Butt agreed to bat a "maiden over" - where no runs are scored - during the crucial final day of the Oval Test on August 21 last year, which was a chance for Pakistan to win their first match of the series.

Majeed discussed the arrangement with the cricketer by phone while agreeing a deal with News of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood, who was posing as a rich Indian businessman who had paid £10,000 to fix part of the match, the court heard.

When the reporter pointed out that the cricketer sounded asleep during the phone call, the agent allegedly replied: "Believe me, he's done this many times."

In the event Butt did not play the maiden over as planned after he ended up batting earlier than expected and facing a new ball, which travels much more quickly, meaning he could not help scoring a run, the court heard.

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