Spot-fixing controversy November 30, 2010

Pakistan agent claims four other players worked with him

A Pakistani TV channel has broadcast previously unseen video footage of Mazhar Majeed, the player agent allegedly at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal, in which he takes the names of four more Pakistani players who, he claims, work with him.

The video footage, obtained and shown by the Geo news channel, is part of the hidden camera recordings that formed the original News of the World sting operation in August. In those, an undercover reporter pretending to be a member of a betting syndicate was seen meeting with Majeed a number of times to allegedly orchestrate spot-fixing scams involving members of the Pakistan team.

At the time the tabloid revealed the names of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and claimed that there were four others involved but didn't name them. Butt, Asif and Amir were provisionally suspended by the ICC; the tabloid claimed to have exposed their plan, with Majeed, to bowl deliberate, pre-arranged no-balls during the fourth Test between Pakistan and England at Lord's.

The footage, well-placed sources confirmed to ESPNcricinfo, was shown as an exhibit in the ICC's provisional suspension hearings of Butt and Amir, held in October in Dubai, and was part of the evidence submitted by ICC against the three.

The freshly aired footage takes place in Majeed's house, where he is talking to a reporter with a hidden camera who asks him about the players who work with him: "What's the latest situation?" Majeed replies: "I'll tell you who we've got then. We've got Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt, Wahab Riaz ... that's six, yeah? Imran Farhat ... that's seven out of 11 players."

Majeed goes on to explain how certain players are good for certain acts and how he targets younger players in particular. "It's long-term thinking. These boys are going to be around years and I've got the best boys." Senior players such as Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Saeed Ajmal, he says, do not interest him because they only have a few years left. Ajmal, he says, is "too religious."

Of the four players named in the claims aired on Tuesday, Umar and Riaz continue to very much be a part of the Pakistan side; both were selected today in Pakistan's Twenty20 and Test squads for a tour to New Zealand. Riaz was questioned by Scotland Yard during the England tour, though he was released without any charge laid on him.

The eldest Akmal, Kamran, has been frozen out, however, and has not been picked since the England tour. He was the subject of a notice sent by the ACSU after the World Twenty20 in May, but was recently told by the ICC that he is cleared to play for Pakistan.

According to the PCB's chief selector Mohsin Khan, Kamran wasn't picked for the New Zealand series because the PCB didn't clear him. Though his Test form has been poor, he would generally be considered an essential part of the limited-overs side given the balance his hard-hitting batting brings.

Farhat was part of Pakistan's squad in the series against South Africa but has also been dropped. His axing is likelier to be the result of poor performances, however, and the relative success of a new opening pair in Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez.

The emergence of this footage is likely to increase concerns in the ICC - which has not commented publicly on any of the other four players - about the legal representation the suspended trio is getting. Earlier this month, the same channel broadcast text messages allegedly exchanged between Butt and Majeed. That led to the ICC asking the players' lawyers to return the evidence given to them during the hearings, unhappy that it was being leaked to the media.

Observers familiar with and, in some instances, involved in the case have repeatedly expressed concerns over the attitude of some of the lawyers and how it might affect the workings of the final hearings into the case, due to be held in January in Doha, Qatar. Sources who witnessed the provisional suspension hearings claim that the players' lawyers signed a document agreeing not to discuss the hearing and the case publicly, something that has not happened.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo