LONDON, (Reuters) – Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt agreed to score no runs in an over during a crucial game against England as part of a betting scam, a court heard yesterday.
Butt, 26, was allegedly taped confirming that he would deliberately bat out a maiden over on the final day of last year’s Oval test match, which was a chance for his side to win their first game of the series.
His London-based sports agent, Mazhar Majeed, 36, discussed the arrangement with the cricketer by phone while agreeing a deal with an undercover journalist posing as a rich Indian businessman who had paid 10,000 pounds ($15,400) to fix part of the match, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The Press Association reported that Majeed assured the journalist, Mazher Mahmood, of the News of the World, that Butt would score no runs in his first full over at the Oval the next day, Aug. 21 last year.
When the journalist pointed out that a maiden over could happen ordinarily, the agent rang the cricketer on speaker phone to prove he was involved in the fixing scam, the court heard.
Their alleged conversation, which was recorded by the reporter, was read to the jury. Majeed allegedly said: “You know the maiden we were doing in the first over?” Butt allegedly replied: “Yeah.”
Majeed: “You know the third over you face? Do one more maiden.”
Butt: “No, leave it, OK.”
Majeed: “You don’t want to do the third over?” Butt: “Nai, yaar.” (“No, mate.”) Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee said: “If not party to this corrupt agreement, you might expect Butt to say something to the effect of ‘What are you talking about?’“
Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments between Aug. 15 and 29 last year.
On the opening day of the trial on Wednesday, Jafferjee told the jury: “This case reveals a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket, with the key players being members of the Pakistan cricket team.”
The activity, he said, was underpinned by the betting industry in the Asian sub-continent, where gambling on cricket matches alone had a turnover of $40-50 billion a year.
The trial is expected to last a month.