Fixing shame: Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif coming for trial in a Crown court in London
A SPORTS agent told an undercover reporter he could fix the results of cricket games using a stable of six Pakistani players, with a Test match costing £1m (£640,201) to rig, a London court heard yesterday.
The claim emerged as Mazher Mahmood, the former investigations editor for Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, gave evidence at the trial of former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.
In recordings played to Southwark Crown Court, the agent, Mazhar Majeed, alleged that Australian players and some of the biggest names in Pakistani cricket history were prepared to fix parts of matches.
A video secretly filmed in a car showed the agent and the reporter - posing as an Indian frontman for a Far East gambling syndicate - meeting on August 18 last year on the first day of Pakistan’s Test against England at The Oval.
Majeed said he would give the journalist proof of his influence by arranging for two no-balls to be bowled, for a fee of £10,000 ($15,700) each, then said a “deposit” of £150,000 ($96,032) was required for further activity.
He detailed how to arrange a “bracket”, where bets are made on incidents during a given period of play.
“I will give you a bracket for the following day... In terms of a deposit it is going to be £150,000 minimum,” the agent said.
“That is going to be for me to pay my six boys a certain amount each. After that I can give you everything we do and every result we do, every bracket we do.”
Majeed said he would pay the players to secure their cooperation.
He promised: “I have got the main players. I have got the bowlers and the batsmen and the all-rounders, I have got two-two-two and that is all you need.
“We have got one result already planned and that is in the next three matches, Pakistan will lose.
“Again you know as a cricket game it goes backwards and forwards, it is your responsibility to put it (a bet) on at the right time.”
The agent said he would inform Mahmood of “exactly what the players are going to do”.
“They will do their job,” he promised.
Ironically, Majeed told the journalist: “I know you and I have met you and I’m very good with people and instincts. I believe you are genuine.”
Prosecutors allege that Butt and Asif had agreed for no-balls to be bowled as part of a spot-fixing scam.
The two players have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.
Earlier, the court heard an audio recording of a conversation about spot-fixing between Mahmood and the agent in a restaurant earlier the same day.
Naming famous former Pakistan cricketers, the agent said in the recording: “It’s been happening for centuries. It’s been happening for years. Wasim, Waqar, Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan - they all did it.”
Majeed went on to allege that Australian players would fix “brackets”.
“The Australians, they are the biggest. They have 10 brackets a game,” he said.
Arranging a “bracket” could cost between £50,000 ($78,116.01) and £80,000 ($1.24bn).
“For a result, Twenty20 is about £400,000 ($625,040) and Test matches, depending on the situation, is about £1 million ($15,62,284),” he added.
He said he was dealing with a contact in India, adding: “Indian bookmakers, think of how many millions are bet on these games.”
Pakistan players were paid “peanuts”, he said, but there was “massive, massive money” in spot-fixing.
Mahmood gave evidence behind a screen after the judge banned descriptions of his appearance because his security could be compromised.
Benedict Bermange, a cricket statistician at Sky Sports television, told the court the odds of successfully predicting three specified deliveries as no-balls by chance during any given match was one in one million.
He said two of the no-balls delivered in the Lord’s Test were the “the largest... in terms of front foot being over the crease that I have seen”.
Majeed and young Pakistan bowler Mohammad Aamer have also been charged with the same offences but are not standing trial alongside Butt and Asif.
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