Salman Butt was today accused of “destroying” cricket by trying to make “as much money as possible” from fixing the game.
The former Pakistan captain admitted there was “terrible” corruption in the Lord’s Test match against England – but claimed he was not involved.
He said that it was a “bizarre” accusation that he had accepted a £2,500 bung from the News of the World to fix no balls, because “I am earning four times as much as that every match.”
Butt launched a cut throat defence by suggesting his opening bowlers may have been part of the fixing conspiracy, run by his agent, but as captain he “did not have a clue” about it.
In a dramatic confrontation in court, Aftab Jafferjee, QC, prosecuting, stood five yards from Butt and said: “You were in this conspiracy to make as much money as you could out of the game you profess to love – that is the sad truth.”
Butt replied: “That’s what you think.”
The prosecutor said that match and “spot” fixing could “completely destroy” cricket and cause fans to stop watching the game.
Mr Butt was reluctant to accept the point. He said it “depends”, and added that in American wrestling everyone knows the fights are arranged but still thousands go to watch and support.
However he said that fixing in cricket was a “a terrible thing to do, not good for the game, not good for the country, and it speaks to the character of the man.”
Asked whether he believed Mohammad Amir was corrupt, Butt replied: “You can ask Amir, I cannot answer for other people.”
However Butt admitted that his agent, Mazhar Majeed, was corrupt – and said he felt betrayed by his “friend”.
He said that he “completely misjudged” Majeed’s character and claimed he did not realise he was fixing parts of matches.
He told the court: “I didn’t really realise what kind of a man he was. I thought I knew him better. But now with all the things that have come out and we have seen and heard I think I have misjudged someone completely.
“I just took his word, trusted him, knew him for that long, but never thought there could be another side to him that could be this bad.”
Butt launched a cut throat defence today by suggesting his opening bowlers were part of the fixing conspiracy, but as captain he “did not have a clue” about it.
After the News of the World’s expose, Butt admitted he immediately had a “suspicion” that Amir and Mohammad Asif bowled deliberate no balls, but said he didn’t want to believe they had done such a “terrible” thing.
“It was very bad, the worst you can get. I didn’t want to believe it of my two bowlers.”
Alexander Milne, defending Asif, claimed that seconds before the bowler delivered one of the disputed no-balls, Butt had shouted to him in Punjabi “run fast f—er, you’re running too slow”.
Asif’s defence is that he overstepped after the captain put him under pressure to sprint to the crease.
Butt denied the claim and said: “I have never heard of a bowler being asked to run faster to the crease. It is just not a term that is used in cricket.”
He said that he only called words of encouragement such as “shabash”, meaning “come on”.
The former captain added: “I have never done fixing. My passion is to play cricket for my country, that’s all I’ve ever done.”
Butt and Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and accepting corrupt payments in the Lord’s Test last year. Amir and Majeed are not on trial in these proceedings.
The case continues.
Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ