LONDON, (Reuters) – Pakistan’s former Test cricket captain found himself accused of spot-fixing only after a former agent and friend “grossly abused” his trust, a court heard yesterday.
Salman Butt, 27, was named by his agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, as one of several players allegedly involved in a gambling scam to rig specific incidents in games during last year’s tour of England, London’s Southwark Crown Court was told.
However, Ali Bajwa, defending the cricketer, said: “We say Salman Butt only finds himself here on trial accused of these charges because of the words of his former friend and agent, Mazhar Majeed.
Prosecutors allege that Majeed conspired with Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir, 19, and Mohammad Asif, 28, to deliver three deliberate no-balls during last August’s Lord’s Test between Pakistan and England, in return for bribes.
Bajwa said Butt told police in interview that the fact that the no-balls were bowled exactly when Majeed said they would be was a “freakish coincidence,” the Press Association reported.
He told the court: “That is not, and has never been, part of Mr Butt’s defence.
Butt and Asif, who are standing trial, deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.
The court has heard that an undercover reporter investigating cricket match-fixing paid Majeed 150,000 pounds ($237,000)in cash as part of an arrangement to rig parts of games.
Bajwa told the jury: “I anticipate that everyone in this case will agree that there was at the very least a criminal conspiracy between Mazhar Majeed and Mohammad Amir…
“It is Salman Butt’s case that he did not know of the existence of a conspiracy to bowl no-balls at Lord’s and he would never have allowed himself to become party to it.”
Butt, who normally appears as an opening batsman, began playing cricket when he was about 12 and made his first-class debut for a domestic Pakistan team by the time he was 15.
He played his first Test match for Pakistan against Bangladesh in 2003.
Speaking of his pride at being selected for the national side, he said: “To represent Pakistan was the greatest honour of my life.”