Trial 'reveals cricket corruption'
Three top Pakistani cricketers took bribes to bowl deliberate no-balls in a scandal that reveals "rampant corruption" at the heart of the international game, a court has heard.
Former Test captain Salman Butt, 26, and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif, 28, and Mohammad Amir, 19, conspired with UK-based sports agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, to fix parts of a match during Pakistan's tour of England last year, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.
Motivated by greed, the four men "contaminated" matches watched by millions of people, and betrayed their team, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the sport itself, it was claimed.
Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC said there were "simply breathtaking" sums of money involved in foreign betting markets, with an estimated 40 to 50 billion US dollars spent in the Indian sub-continent 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 said.
He told the court the cricketers' alleged corrupt activities were "underpinned" by the overseas betting industry, in particular in the cricketing nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and the Far East. Gamblers in the Indian sub-continent bet on everything from the outcome of matches to individual events, such as how many no-balls or wides will be bowled in an over or an innings, the court heard.
The trial centres on the Test match between Pakistan and England at Lord's in London, known as the "home of cricket", from August 26 to 29 last year, the court heard.
Butt and Majeed are alleged to have arranged for Asif and Amir, Pakistan's top fast bowlers, to have bowled three no-balls at specific points in the game in return for large sums of money.
Majeed allegedly told an undercover reporter that spot-fixing - where parts of a match are illegally rigged - cost £50,000 to £80,000, but fixing results was much more expensive - around £400,000 for a Twenty20 game and as much as £1 million for a five-day Test match.
He also claimed to have six players from the Pakistan national side working for him in rigging matches, the court heard. The undercover journalist agreed to pay £10,000 in return for a no-ball to be played as a "tester" of the agent's ability to fix matches, the court heard.
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 August 15 and 29 last year.