Spot-fixing controversy October 24, 2011

Amir 'the sacrificial goat' says prosecution

Richard Sydenham at Southwark Crown Court

Teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir was being singled out as "the sacrificial goat" in the alleged spot-fixing trial, the prosecution told the jury, as both defendants Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif have each acknowledged that Amir must have participated in bowling fixed no-balls.

The comment regarding Amir came on the 14th morning of the trial, being heard at Southwark Crown Court in central London. The prosecution was giving its closing speech, before Butt's lawyer Ali Bajwa QC was to follow with Asif's lawyer Alexander Milne QC to close their defence on Tuesday.

In their cross-examinations, former captain Butt and fast bowler Asif each conceded that the prosecution's evidence seemed to suggest guilt on the part of Amir, now aged 19. But Jafferjee picked up on this tone by declaring the two senior players were looking to lay any blame in the case elsewhere.

Asif pointed the finger at Butt, blaming his no-ball on the alleged abuse he received from his captain the ball before overstepping, telling him to "run faster f*****, have you slept?" Butt, in his denial, has focused more on distancing himself from Majeed and has maintained he never had any knowledge of the alleged fix.

His reference to the "goat" as opposed to "lamb", came after Butt told from the witness box how the Pakistan team call the night-watchman a goat because he is to be sacrificed for the team. The court received his comment with laughter.

"The exuberant, respecting Amir, respectful of Butt, and highly talented," Jafferjee said. "Everybody in this case has said that Amir sadly was part of the fix. Amir has been corrupted. So what do we make of it?

He added: "How does he become to be in on it? I had to ask this question twice of Mr Butt, who introduced him to Mazhar Majeed. Butt said all this has gone on behind his back. That is the one chorus shared by Butt and Asif. 'Whatever is happening, it's all behind my back'.

"In reality for the purpose of this trial, the sacrificial goat has become Amir."

Butt and Asif face charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the Lord's test in August last year when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-determined no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.

The case continues.