Spot-fixing controversy October 10, 2011

More matches were to be fixed

Richard Sydenham at Southwark Crown Court

Pakistan were to throw at least one limited-over international on the 2010 tour of England, a court was told on Monday, and only the timing of the News of the World's expose seemed to prevent such a result from occurring.

Mazhar Mahmood, the undercover investigative journalist who sparked the alleged spot-fixing controversy, was appearing as a prosecution witness at Southwark Crown Court on the fourth day in the trial involving former captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, who are alleged to have bowled pre-determined no balls. They deny the charges.

A recording from secret microphones of agent and alleged conspirator Mazhar Majeed was played in chunks throughout Monday and one aspect dealt with the intention to fix results during either the five-match 50-over series or the two Twenty20 games.

It can be safely assumed he was not referring to Test matches because in earlier recordings Majeed had told of how important it was that his "best friend" and key client Salman Butt won Tests so he remained in his position for a long time. Shahid Afridi was Pakistan captain in the 20 and 50-over formats at that time.

Those matches followed the four-match Test series that England won 3-1. The newspaper, though, exposed the alleged corruption on the Saturday of the fourth and final Test at Lord's. The jury, also following the recording with a written transcript, heard Majeed's vague boasts about his corrupt intentions.

"We have been working towards the next month for a long time," Majeed was heard saying in one segment.

And in a previous sequence on the same recording, he had said to the reporter while chatting in a parked car off the Gloucester Road in London: "We're doing two results soon, within a month."

The journalist confirmed his intentions by asking: "So Pakistan will lose and then what?"

Majeed replied: "Pakistan will lose but you know when Pakistan, like a game, you know as a cricket game it goes backwards and forwards, yeah, it's your responsibility to put it on at the right times because there's gonna be times in that game, it doesn't matter what the odds are before, there's gonna be times in that game when Pakistan are the favourites."

When Mahmood inquired whether there would be any mistakes and if there was a danger that his (fictitious) Far East backers would lose their money on false information, Majeed said: "They will do their job, don't worry."

Majeed was also heard to earlier promise the journalist "four or five brackets for the Lord's Test" and two no-balls, which were meant as a tester for Majeed to demonstrate his influence over the players he controlled.

A bracket is a ten-over sequence when bettors might punt on a certain amount of runs in a set period or a number of no-balls, for instance. Majeed said a fixed bracket cost between £50,000 and £80,000. The jury was told last week that Majeed priced a fixed Test result at £1 million, a fixed one-day international at £450,000 and a Twenty20 international at £400,000.

The case continues.