Spot-fixing controversy October 18, 2011

Butt accused of 'pressurising' Asif

Richard Sydenham at Southwark Crown Court

The lawyer of Mohammad Asif accused the player's former captain and fellow defendant at the alleged spot-fixing trial, Salman Butt, of "pressurising him" before he bowled his infamous no-ball at the Lord's Test last year.

Earlier in the trial that is now into its tenth day, Aftab Jafferjee for the prosecution asked a witness about the impact on bowling a no-ball if the bowler ran faster into the crease. Although the answer he was looking for had not been researched, the point to it was revealed when Asif's legal counsel, Alexander Milne QC, quizzed Butt for about 20 minutes.

After the court was played the over in question bowled by Asif, the tenth over in which a no-ball came from the last ball of it, Milne pointedly said to Butt (the captain at that time) in the witness stand: "You had been talking to Mr Asif through this over and pressurising him."

The court has previously heard Asif say in a police transcript from an interview a year ago that he is "never pressured by anyone" but on that occasion he was referring to the notion that he was being put under pressure to fix, not to run faster.

The jury had seen during the footage that England batsman Andrew Strauss had to pull away before one delivery and Milne suggested he did that because of the distracting talk between Asif and his captain Butt, who was fielding at a very short and straight mid-off, next to the middle of the pitch.

"I'm not there to pressure him, just to encourage," Butt replied to Milne's suggestion.

Milne hit back: "Before Mr Asif bowled his no-ball, you said to him, 'run faster f*****, you are running too slow'."

Again, Butt denied that such a conversation had taken place: "If you have played cricket in any part of your life you would know that these things are never said. It is no term. There's no suggestion in cricket as 'run faster'. He is not running the 100 meters, he's bowling. Asif has never been about pace, he is a rhythm bowler.

Milne continued to press Butt and again implied there was some kind of intimidation of his bowler occurring, before England had lost a wicket: "This was a man (Asif) who had been turned down twice for an appeal for a wicket in the over and you were piling on the pressure."

Butt rejected Milne's suggested once more: "There are certain terms that are part of cricket and others that are not. 'Run faster' is the first time I have heard it during this case."

Butt and Asif are each facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following that Lord's Test in August when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-planned no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.

The case continues.

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