Butt and Asif claim no balls were ‘freakish occurrence’ which happened by ‘chance’

Salman Butt claims that three no balls bowled in an alleged spot-fixing conspiracy were part of a series of “freakish occurrences”.

Butt and opening bowler, Mohammad Asif, both deny charges of corruption and cheating at the Lord’s Test match against England last year.

Jurors at the cricket corruption trial were told that Butt, 26, had been appointed captain of Pakistan during the England tour in 2010. The prosecution allege that this “assured his ability to direct activity, on the field, both legitimate and corrupt”.

It is claimed that he and his agent, Mazhar Majeed, “orchestrated” three no balls to be bowled by Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.

The court heard that Butt was an experienced cricketer who had had played for Pakistan in 33 Tests, 78 one day internationals and 24 Twenty20 matches since making his debut for this country in 2003. His last match was the Lord’s Test.

The court heard that Asif claims it was “just chance” that he bowled a no ball at the exact moment that Majeed had claimed he would to a News of the World journalist posing as a corrupt businessman.

The 28-year-old fast bowler had a “wealth of experience” and was ranked the second best bowler in the world in the summer of 2010, jurors were told. The prosecution allege that he used his experience and “guile” to bowl a deliberate no-ball with his foot only a few inches over the line.

The court heard that he took his 100th Test wicket during the England series and had played in 23 Tests, 38 ODIs and 11 Twenty20 games since his debut in January 2005.

The involvement of teenage fast bowler Amir was a “tragedy” for cricket, the court heard.

Jurors were told that Amir was one of cricket’s great rising stars – and became the youngest player ever to take 50 Test wickets.

He is not on trial at these proceedings but is part of the overall conspiracy, the prosecution say.

It is claimed that the young bowler was “seduced” and “ensnared” by the Pakistan captain, Salman Butt, to bowl deliberate no balls at specific times during the Lord’s Test in August 2010.

The court was told that Amir was only 18 at the time of the allegations “and in the peak of his bowling form”.

Aftab Jafferjee, prosecuting, said there was “a slight sense of sympathy” for him.

“It maybe difficult – but by no means impossible – to resist being ensnared, when one so young is being seduced into corruption by his own captain,” he said.

Mr Jafferjee said: “It is thus, not only a tragedy for the sport, but a tragedy for him to have participated in this criminal enterprise”.

Details also emerged in court about Majeed, the agent, who is also not on trial at these proceedings.

The 36-year-old sports agent and businessman from Croydon, London, was the agent for several players.

The prosecution say that he “orchestrated” match and spot fixing and channelled the “significant” sums of money made into the businesses he owned – Croydon Athletic Football Club and a chain of ice cream parlours called “Afters”.

Aftab Jafferjee, QC, prosecuting, said that while Majeed was involved in conventional agent work for the Pakistan players, and became a personal friend of Butt, “there were vast sums to be made through the other and ugly face of cricketing activities.”

The case continues.

View all earlier trial articles

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