Tuesday 20 March 2018

Cricket: Agent's texts reveal scams widespread on tour

Nick Hoult

Police unearthed evidence of Pakistan spot-fixing throughout their tour of England last summer.

It can now be revealed in evidence not put before the jury which was collected by detectives.

They found texts sent by Mazhar Majeed, the agent who masterminded the conspiracy, to a global web of fixers arranging the rigging of play during two Tests against Australia and four with England. He seems to implicate Salman Butt and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal in a series of messages the judge ruled inadmissible as evidence.

Majeed tried to cover his tracks by deleting the texts but detectives were able to retrieve many of them. They discovered evidence of negotiations between Majeed and fixers in Dubai, India and Britain.

The head of the ICC's anti-corruption unit said betting syndicates were run by "mafia and underworld dons" in Mumbai and Dubai who make millions from India's illegal betting industry. Majeed's texts discuss fixing 'brackets' -- scoring rate during a 10-over span. All of the apparent scams occur before the Lord's Test at the end of August, the last of the summer and the centrepiece of the prosecution's case.

One message was sent by an unknown fixer in the UK to Majeed on July 12, the day before the first Test against Australia at Lord's. The text suggests Majeed was arranging the fixing of a bracket in Australia's innings. It read: "Bro, just spoke to Sanjay. Bowling first, they should bowl in tandem first for at least first eight overs. Give away a minimum of 47 runs, in first 10 overs please." Police believe 'they' refers to Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.

The evidence then shifted to the Test series against England. On July 29, Majeed texted suspected Indian fixer Raj: "It is hard to do this but they will try. Two edges gave away eight runs in first over," and: "If they do it they will want to be paid." The following day Majeed texted his UK fixing contact and said: "Boss, you can see they have done it."

But Majeed received an angry text from Raj which appears to refer to the failure to fix a bracket: "I'm very shocked and speechless about what the boys have done. I am not able to understand what they have in store. At this rate they will ruin our lives. Despite my request one run in last ball of 100th over (bowled by Asif) nothing happened... ???"

Majeed replied: "I cannot explain boss. I'll find out tonight", before texting his fixer in the UK, implicating Akmal. "Kamran's one will still be on if another wicket."

The tour shifted to Edgbaston. The day before the match the UK-based fixer asked: "Is your Pakistan man ready for a small one tomorrow?"

Majeed asked Raj if he wanted a spot-fix, writing: "Shall I prepare anything tomorrow?" Pakistan were bowled out for 72 and Majeed texted Raj: "Now Butt is out, anything we do is far too risky, let's see the position on Day 4."

Majeed then appears to plot another bracket at the Oval Test. "Kami and Aamer (Amir) minimum 13 off first three overs after Kami gives an indication by change of gloves with no wkt. It starts from round of overs, say 35 or 40, whichever is first after they come in together. Next 7 overs, maximum 15 runs." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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