The agent at the centre of the cricket corruption scandal claimed he had seven ‘fixers’ in the Pakistan team – and attempted to corrupt the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup, a court heard today.
Mazhar Majeed, a London-based sports agent, said he deliberately “groomed” younger players in the Pakistan squad and told an undercover journalist the names of those he claimed he could rely on to “fix” play.
The internationals, as named in court, were: batsmen Salman Butt, Umar Akmal, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and bowlers Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.
Majeed also named batsman Imran Farhat, but went on to say that he was “not in on the whole picture”, and that “we ask him to do brackets and sometimes we ask him to do wickets”.
Two of the players – Asif and Butt – are on trial for spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test match against England in 2010. Prosecutors say that Amir, who is not involved in these proceedings, was also involved in the conspiracy.
At Southwark Crown Court today, text message evidence recovered by police from Majeed’s phone indicated the agent was attempting to corrupt the Pakistan team earlier in the year, at the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.
During the tournament, after Butt had invited Majeed to his hotel room, the agent texted the player at 2.30am on May 9: “Ok, how about the other thing – one in the seventh over and one in the eighth?”
The next day, more texts were sent to Butt, the court heard.
The first said: “This will only work if you score in first two overs, no wickets.”
Another read: “Bro, also confirm other thing in seventh and eighth, one fall in each”.
The prosecution said there is a wealth of “damning evidence” of the detailed conversations between Butt and Mazhar.
Jurors heard of exchanges during the Oval Test match against England last year, before the game at Lord’s.
After the third day of the Test, before Pakistan’s second innings, Majeed called Butt at 11.41pm, and talked to him on the speakerphone of his mobile phone about deliberately playing out a maiden at a specified time.
Majeed said: “So the first full over you play, make sure you play a maiden.”
Butt responded in Urdu: “Theek hai” (ok/fine)
They then set up a signal to show that the bet was on, it is alleged.
Majeed said: “After the second ball, just go and tap the middle of the pitch ok?”
Butt replied: “Theek hai” (ok/fine)
When the journalist then asked if he was sure Butt would co-operate, Majeed answered: “Believe me – he’s done this many times”.
Asked again whether he was sure Butt was trusted to fix events, Majeed said: “Salman is a million per cent. Trust me.”
In the event, Butt did not play out a maiden, the court heard. Majeed explained that Butt pulled out of the fix because he had to face the new ball – after the fall of a wicket in the first over – and could not guarantee he would not nick a delivery through the slips.
Pakistan went on to take a historic victory at the Oval, but on the night before the win, it is alleged Majeed called a “shady” unidentified figure in India and asked him about what offer he would make to apparently arrange the match to be thrown.
Aftab Jafferjee, QC, prosecuting, said: “The Indian caller provides a figure of a million dollars. The only context to place this in the light of all the evidence, would be the price for Pakistan to lose the Test match when they were plainly poised for a memorable victory. It reveals that at least the idea had been floated between Majeed and the Indian party.”
Butt and Asif deny charges of cheating and accepting corrupt payments. The case continues.