Mohammad Asif should be acquitted of corruption charges because there is no evidence he received any money from the no-balls conspiracy, a court heard today.
Alex Milne, QC, defending the bowler, told jurors in his closing speech at the spot-fixing trial, to “follow the money” by tracing the £150,000 bung given to the agent at the centre of the conspiracy, Mazhar Majeed.
“It went to Salman Butt and it went to Mohammad Amir,” Mr Milne said. “Not a single £50 note went to Asif.”
The court has heard that £2,500 of the marked News of the World notes was found in Butt’s hotel room, and £1,500 in Amir’s room. Asif had £8,000 in cash in his room, which he explained was from tour allowances, and none of it included marked £50 notes.
The 29-year-old bowler had minimal contact with Majeed, received no money from him, and was therefore not part of his racket, it was claimed.
The lawyer said that Asif’s allegedly deliberate no ball came only after Butt had “needled” the player with abusive comments, and told him to run faster to the crease – thus “increasing the likelihood that he misses his mark.”
“I am afraid the evidence does point towards the captain being with Majeed on this,” Mr Milne said.
The lawyer added that in two crucial days around the Lord’s Test, there were 65 telephone calls and texts exchanged between Majeed, Amir and Butt – “one every 34 mins, day and night”.
However there was no traffic to Asif in that period, he told jurors.
He added that unlike Amir’s huge no balls at Lord’s, Asif’s overstep was not “flagrant or blatant”.
“The prosecution case against Asif rests on two inches – the distance his foot was over the line,” he said.
After the conclusion of all three closing speeches, Mr Justice Cooke began his summing up.
He directed the jury to accept that Majeed and Amir were involved in a conspiracy.
“You can proceed on the basis that Majeed and Amir were involved in the spot-fixing at Lord’s, as all parties agree that is the case,” the judge said. “But do not be concerned by their absence from this trial, or speculate about the reasons for it.”
He continued: “You should return true verdicts according to the evidence. Don’t let sympathy enter your verdicts and don’t speculate on what you might have heard outside of this courtroom. You should base your decision on the evidence alone and draw inferences, which I mean by drawing common sense conclusions.”
The judge laid out the legal matters they would consider. Both players are accused of conspiracy to “accept or obtain corrupt payments” contrary to their “employer’s affairs or considerations” under the 1906 Corruption Act. They are also charged with conspiracy to cheat.
Asif and Butt deny both charges and the trial continues tomorrow.
Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ