Two Pakistani cricket players conspired to take a bribe to fix plays in a Test match against England last year at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, prosecutors said.
In a “depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket,” former Pakistan team captain Salman Butt, 27, and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 29, agreed to perform poorly on three plays in the match to affect gambling outcomes, Aftab Jafferjee, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said in the opening day of trial today.
The alleged crime was uncovered by a journalist at the now- defunct News of the World tabloid, who offered Butt’s agent, Mazhar Majeed, a 140,000-pound ($216,000) bribe. Majeed accepted the money so Butt would arrange for Asif and another player to bowl “no balls” on Aug. 26 and 27 last year during the fourth cricket Test against England.
“The activity of these four men not only contaminated the games which took place and were watched by millions in this country, but their activity represents a betrayal by them of their own team, their own Board of Cricket, and most damaging of all, a betrayal of the sport,” Jafferjee said.
After his arrest, Butt said the fact that three no-balls were bowled at the same time his agent told the journalist that they would be, was a series of “freakish occurrences,” Jafferjee said. Asif also claims the fact he bowled no balls was chance and unrelated to the bribe, according to the prosecutors.
Lawyers for Asif and Butt will present their defense later in the trial, scheduled to last about four weeks at a criminal court in London.
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