LONDON: Pakistan cricketers were ready to throw One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20s in a bid to undermine then-captain Shahid Afridi and make ‘a hell of a lot of money’, heard the Southwark Crown Court on the fifth day of the spot-fixing hearing.
Undercover journalist Mazhar Mahmood continued to give testimony to the court, which revealed that Mazhar Majeed, an agent for several Pakistan players, had told him last year that the cricketers wanted Afridi replaced by then-Test captain Salman Butt and were prepared to fix matches to do it.
The court also heard how a shadowy Indian contact offered the agent $1 million to ensure Pakistan lost a Test against England.
The jury in the trial of Butt and fast-bowler Mohammad Asif saw video of meetings between Majeed and the News of the World journalist, who was posing as an Indian businessman.
The footage showed Mahmood handing over £140,000 and Majeed counting it out. Majeed also claimed that several players wanted Afridi to be relieved of the limited-overs captaincy as his presence at the helm hampered their plans.
“They all want Butt to be captain,” he said. “They want to lose anyway.”
Majeed told Mahmood he had appeared on the scene at the right time ahead of the ODIs and Twenty20s between Pakistan and England.
“We’re going to be making a hell of a lot of money in the Twenty20s and the ODIs.
“Say for example Twenty20. I’ll tell you the bowlers, how many minimum runs they’re going to concede.”
Shady Indian offers $1m
The jury also saw footage of an earlier meeting, where the journalist recorded the agent on the telephone with an unidentified man in India, discussing deliberately throwing the England-Pakistan Test at The Oval. Majeed called his Indian contact and told him, “What offer can you give me for today’s game? Tell me, just give me a figure now, we haven’t got long.
The Indian contact replied: “I give you one (million dollars).”
Cricketers were suspicious of Mehmood
The court also heard that the cricketers standing trial had warned the agent that they were suspicious of Mehmood.
According to a secretly-recorded phone call played in court, the agent said the players could not understand why he was reluctant to hand over the amount on trust for bowling the pre-determined no- balls.
“They’re saying if he’s worried about £150,000 then what’ll happen when it comes to the big money.”
CA lashes out at agent’s claims
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland said allegations made implicating Australian players in match-fixing were baseless claims made by a person of ‘dubious repute’.
“These comments or allegations would appear to be outlandish and were made by a person of dubious repute,” he said. “If there’s any issue we’ll investigate them. If we charge players and find them guilty we’ll have no qualms about issuing a life sentence on them. “Our long-standing formal view for well over a decade has been that any credible evidence needs to be pursued and investigated with vigour by the International Cricket Council.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.