Mohammad Asif turned on his captain in court today, claiming he ordered him to “run faster f—er” before he bowled his controversial no ball at Lord’s.
The 28-year-old said he was shocked when Salman Butt swore at him in an “unfriendly way” and accused him of being ‘half-asleep’ on the field against England last year.
As Asif gave his evidence on the twelfth day of the corruption trial at Southwark Crown Court, Butt watched on from the dock, shaking his head. He has denied saying the words.
Asif said that he overstepped the crease accidently and he had no idea of a deliberate plot for him to deliver the no ball on his last delivery in the tenth over of the innings.
The bowler claimed he had only ever met Mazhar Majeed, the agent at the centre of the conspiracy, on three occasions and barely knew him. He said he had “not even read or signed” a contract the sports agent had given him.
Asif first met Majeed in the West Indies at the T20 World Cup last May, where he chatted with him on a tennis court, he claimed. He met him twice afterwards, in “brief encounters” in the lobby of a London hotel during the Pakistan tour of England last year, he said.
Asked if he bowled a deliberate no ball arranged by Majeed, Asif replied: “No. Why would I agree to do anything for him?”.
The jury was played footage of Asif’s fifth over in England’s first innings at Lord’s, where Butt is seen on screen having adopted an unorthodox catching position on the straight drive to Andrew Strauss.
He claimed that Butt twice called out to him in Punjabi: “Come on. You look sleepy. Haven’t you slept? Run faster f—er”.
Asif, wearing a dark suit and pink tie, said that he was shocked and thought he was “missing something” in what Butt meant.
Alexander Milne, QC, defending Asif, asked if the comment was made in a friendly fashion “No that wasn’t friendly, it did not feel friendly,” he replied. “For me, as a ranking and wicket taking bowler, you cannot say that to me in this position.”
On the first occasion Butt made the call he disturbed Strauss, and caused Asif to stop his run up and return to his mark, the court heard. Asif said it “did not help my concentration”.
Asked why he bowled the no ball on his final delivery, Asif said “it is normal for me”.
Mr Milne questioned whether anything that was said to Asif had upset him in the over.
“Butt shouting at me one or two times,” he replied.
The prosecution say that telephone traffic between Asif, Majeed and Butt show that they were all part of the fixing plot to bowl three no balls at the Lord’s Test against England last August.
Asif denied the conspiracy and claimed that all the calls were about a potential sponsorship deal with Gunn and Moore, and social requests to join them for dinner.
Asked if he was told about the News of the World “bung”, he said “no”.
There was laughter in court as Asif explained his cricketing career. Asked what role the captain plays, he said: “He gives me the ball.”
Asif then called for a new ball to be produced in court so that he could explain to the jury the meaning of “seam bowling”.
The judge turned to him and said: “You don’t have to give away all your secrets.”
After confusing his lawyer and the jury with cricketing terms, he said simply that he bowls “bouncers” to hit the batsman’s helmet, and “yorkers” to “hit his big toe.”
The court heard that Asif bowled an average number of no balls for a fast bowler. He told the court that bowlers have any number of excuses for them – the ground being wet and wind conditions.
He claimed that he once bowled 24 no balls in one Test match in South Africa because the groundsman only rolled the track and left raised platforms at the crease.
Asif and Butt deny conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments, The case continues.
Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ