Spot-fixing controversy November 4, 2011

Asif likely to appeal verdict

Richard Sydenham

Lawyers representing Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif are considering an appeal against his conviction which would mean he would walk free from prison should such an appeal be successful.

The lawyers for Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir on Thursday announced they would appeal on behalf of their clients, but they were expected to be against their sentences, not convictions.

Asif was found guilty of conspiring to cheat and conspiring to accept corrupt payments by a jury on Tuesday and he was sentenced to 12 months in jail by Justice Cooke two days later. Butt was handed a sentence of 30 months, Amir six months and the agent Mazhar Majeed 32 months.

But a representative inside Asif's legal team revealed to ESPNcricinfo that "we are considering an appeal against conviction, not sentence". They feel that the jury may not have been within their rights to convict Asif on the evidence they had in front of them. This appeal is expected to be lodged in the next seven days.

Asif's team feel that if it is found that the jury were right to hand down a guilty conviction then they would not be appealing against the sentence because if guilty the sentence fits the crime.

Asif was adjudged to have bowled one pre-determined no-ball in the Lord's Test match last year, while Amir admitted to bowling two. Asif denied the charges against him. Butt was accused of orchestrating the spot-fixing and Majeed of arranging the deal after taking £150,000 off an undercover reporter for the News of the World.

Alexander Milne QC, who represented Asif at Southwark Crown Court in the 22-day trial, told the jury in his closing speech to "follow the money and if you follow the money you will not find any on Mr Asif", in referring to how no marked News of the World money was discovered in his hotel room when police raided it. Butt had £2,500 found in his room and £1,500 was found in Amir's room.

Majeed said via his barrister on Wednesday that he paid £65,000 to Asif of £77,500 in total that he paid to the three players. Asif was said to have pocketed more to "keep him loyal" and prevent him from joining rival fixing rackets, inferred to be lying elsewhere within the team.