Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

ICC may pursue other players

Guilty: (from left) Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were guilty of 'spot fixing'

The ICC, cricket's governing body, will meet with the Metropolitan Police before deciding whether to take action against other Pakistan players in the wake of yesterday's conviction of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif for spot-fixing during the fourth Test against England at Lord's last year.

A third player, Mohammad Amir, one of the game's brightest rising stars, pleaded guilty to the charges before the five-week trial began.

All three will be sentenced today and face up to seven years in prison. They have already been banned by the ICC for five years.

During the course of the trial it was suggested by the prosecution that other Pakistan players in the squad that toured England last year, playing Test matches against Australia and the host nation, were involved in “suspicious” practices.

Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz, who is in the squad currently playing a Test match series against Sri Lanka, were both named.

Aftab Jafferjee, QC for the prosecution, said in court that Akmal had led a “charmed life” in avoiding becoming involved in the investigation.

Akmal was another client of Mazhar Majeed, the Croydon-based agent who represented the three guilty players and who played a full part in the conspiracy to deliver three pre-arranged and deliberate no-balls during the Lord's Test.

Majeed was also Riaz's agent and represented Imran Farhat, the opening batsman who is also still in the squad, and Umar Akmal.

Jafferjee told the court that the actions of “Wahab Riaz and Kamran Akmal raise deep, deep suspicions.”

Among the evidence that the police, who will not themselves be taking any further action, will hand over to ICC security experts is expected to be a number of texts that suggest the attempts to spot-fix games extended beyond the Lord's and Oval Tests that featured in the trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The ICC may also come under pressure to review their security procedures, some which the trial revealed to have been widely ignored by members of the Pakistan team.

There are also questions to be answered over the governing body's response to allegations over Pakistan's tour to Australia in 2009/10, in which they lost every international fixture, and further allegations about the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka last year and the World Twenty20 Cup, also played last year in the Caribbean.

As part of the ICC's long battle against fixing, players were not supposed to have any guests in their rooms after 10pm and were only allowed to meet agents and other representatives in the lobby of the team's hotel, but those regulations were regularly breached.

During his evidence Butt revealed that the players dismissed the team's security officer, Major Javed Khawaja Najam, as ‘Major 007'.

The threat of match and spot fixing has dogged cricket for over a decade but no player has ever previously been criminally convicted.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, said last night: “We hope that this verdict is seen as a further warning to any individual who might be tempted to engage in corrupt activity within our sport.

“I am satisfied that we have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police throughout this entire process.”

The players and Majeed were exposed by a News of the World sting — the police yesterday praised the “investigative” efforts of the paper and its reporter Mazher Mahmood — with Majeed taking £140,000 in cash in return for the no-balls.

Marked £50 notes from the News of the World were later found in Butt and Amir's hotel rooms.

“This was cheating pure and simple,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Matthew Horne.

“They let down everybody that bought tickets and they let down children when they are role models for those very children that are playing such a special game.”

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