Asif ‘desperately inventing a story to save himself’

Mohammad Asif was accused at the spot-fixing trial today of “desperately inventing a story” to save himself by lawyers representing Salman Butt.

The Pakistan bowler and captain have turned on each other as they face claims they corruptly conspired together at the Lord’s Test against England last year.

Asif said today that Butt “sledged” him and acted “suspiciously” by moving himself to an unorthodox position close to the bowler during the over in which he delivered his contentious no ball.

Before the crucial delivery, Asif claimed that Butt called out to him in Punjabi: “Come on. You look sleepy. Haven’t you slept? Run faster f—er”.

The bowler said that he did run up quicker, causing him to overstep the crease.

He added that the “sledge” had “increased the chance of me bowling a no ball.”

As Asif gave his evidence at Southwark Crown Court, Butt watched on from the dock, shaking his head. He has denied saying the words.

In cross examination, Ali Bajwa, QC, representing Butt, said Asif was “desperately inventing a story” to save himself and implicate Butt. Mr Bajwa said that the former captain had never sworn or told him to “run faster” in his life, and that it was not a cricketing term.

Asif replied “he said it”, and also said that Butt had changed his fielding position that over to stand at a straight silly mid off. After the expose was revealed, he realised that was “suspicious”, Asif said.

“I didn’t realise what was on his mind at the time,” he told the court.

Mr Bajwa revealed that Asif had not spoken about any of these matters when he was questioned by police.

Asif responded: “Only afterwards did I realise the story behind all of this.”

He claimed that he thought the comments were innocent at first, but he read more into them after reading about the News of the World sting.

Asif’s allegedly corrupt over was played to the jury. Mr Bajwa said that the bowler was overplaying how “desperate” he was for a wicket at the time and made at least one false LBW appeal against Andrew Strauss.

The lawyer asked: Have you ever appealed to an umpire when you didn’t think the batsman was out?

Asif replied: “Many times. All bowlers do that. But this one was genuine.”

There was a prolonged argument where Butt’s lawyer suggested that England being 25-0 after 9 overs was “no reason to panic” and that Asif was not a “desperate” sort of bowler.

Asif drew laughs from the court when he responded: “I’m always desperate for a wicket. I’m a bowler – otherwise why would I do it?”

Butt’s lawyers also claimed that Asif was “downplaying” his relationship with the agent at the centre of the conspiracy, Mazhar Majeed.

It was claimed that he would socialise with Majeed, and jurors were told about an exchange of texts which suggested the pair went out with “three beautiful girls” in north London. Asif denied the allegation.

He was then cross examined by the prosecution.

Aftab Jafferjee, QC, opened by saying: “The sad truth Mr Asif is that you had been sucked into this web of corruption and there were two people who were equally responsible – Majeed and Butt. And you knew perfectly well that Mohammad Amir had also been sucked in too.”

Asif replied: “No”.

Mr Jafferjee suggested that Butt had told Asif directly to bowl the no ball at Lord’s, on the orders of Majeed.

Asif said: “I’m telling the truth he did not say to me to bowl a no ball.”

Butt and Asif deny a conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments. The case continues.

Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ

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