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Three Pakistani cricketers took bribes to bowl deliberate no-balls in a scandal that rocked cricket to its core, a court heard.

Newspaper Article

- By Joel Taylor, The Metro, UK

Former Test captain Salman Butt, with fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, conspired with a south London-based sports agent to ‘spot fix’ parts of England’s Test Match against Pakistan last year.

Motivated by large bribes, the men ‘contaminated’ matches watched by millions of people, and ‘betrayed their team’, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the sport itself, said prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee.

‘It is a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket’, he said, ‘with the key players being members of the Pakistan cricket team.’

Their alleged corruption was ‘underpinned’ by the £32billion-a-year betting industry in Asia and the Far East.

The trial centres on the match at Lord’s in London, known as the ‘home of cricket’, on August 26-29 last year. Butt, 26, and the agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, are alleged to have arranged for Asif, 28, and Amir, 19, to ‘rig the game’ by bowling three no-balls at pre-arranged times in return for large sums of money.

The bets are generally made by telephone, in some cases seconds before the event they cover.

It is known as ‘spot fixing’ and Majeed allegedly told an undercover reporter that rigging part of a match cost £50,000-£80,000 to arrange.

An undercover journalist from the News of the World paid £10,000 in return for a no-ball to be bowled as a ‘tester’ of the agent’s ability to fix matches.

The jury at Southwark crown court was told that only Butt and Asif were on trial and there was ‘nothing sinister’ in the absence of Majeed and Amir. Butt and Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments. The trial continues.

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