Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Cricketer 'paid to stay loyal'

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif was paid to stop him switching to a rival match-fixing ring, a court has heard

A corrupt cricket agent paid a Pakistan bowler £65,000 to stop him switching to a rival match-fixing ring, a court has heard.

Mohammad Asif, 28, received the money at the request of other players in his national side who feared he might be tempted to start working for another crooked gambling syndicate, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.

It was also alleged in court that Pakistan's former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, teamed up with another mystery player to organise rigging of parts of games during last summer's tour of England.

The sensational claims were made by lawyers for agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, who was convicted along with Asif, Butt and bowler Mohammad Amir, 19, of plotting to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England in August last year.

Majeed received £150,000 in cash from an undercover reporter from the News of the World as part of an arrangement to rig games, including a promise that Amir and Asif would deliver three no-balls at pre-arranged points in the Lord's match, the court heard.

He paid £2,500 of the money to Amir, £10,000 to Butt and £65,000 to Asif, and planned to give them more in the future, the court heard.

Butt missed the birth of his second son in Pakistan on Tuesday as he and former world number two Test bowler Asif were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

Amir, a teenage cricketing sensation who was tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, admitted the same charges at a pre-trial hearing in September.

It can now be reported that Majeed also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to make corrupt payments after the judge lifted reporting restrictions.

The International Cricket Council imposed five-year bans on all three cricketers in February over the deliberate no-balls at Lord's. They are all appealing against the suspensions.

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