Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt agreed to score no runs in an over during a Test match against England last year as part of a ‘spot-fixing’ scam, a court in London heard on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Butt, 26, confirmed in a telephone call with his agent — a conversation recorded by an undercover journalist — that he would bat out a maiden in the third Test at the Oval in August 2010.
Butt is on trial with fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, on charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling. They have both pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee told Southwark Crown Court that Butt’s agent Mazhar Majeed rang the journalist from the now-closed News of the World tabloid, after an earlier arrangement for no-balls to be bowled in exchange for Â£10,000 ($15,500, 11,600 euros) fell through.
In what Jafferjee said was “potentially damning evidence concerning Salman Butt directly”, a plan emerged for Butt to bat out a maiden in the first full over he faced.
The journalist said that could happen in any case and that he wanted proof, so Majeed called Butt on his other phone and put it on loudspeaker so the reporter could hear.
“You know the maiden we were doing in the first over?”, Majeed said.
“Yeah”, Butt replied. Majeed then tried to get him to do another in his third over, but Butt did not want to, the jury heard.
The following day Majeed met the journalist, then texted Butt four times to remind him to tap the middle of the pitch after the second ball he faced as a signal that he would bat out that over.
Jafferjee said that that day, “as events transpired at The Oval, matters were somewhat out of Butt’s control”, as he had come in to bat earlier than expected, faced a new ball and had to take a single run.
The journalist had pressed Majeed on why the promise he had paid for had not materialised. Majeed explained and the reporter said he wanted a no-ball or something from Butt.
Majeed said he could have two ‘brackets’ for Â£150,000 in the next Test at Lord’s. A bracket is where bets are made on incidents during a certain period of play, for example 10 overs.
“As events would prove, he got a bit of both — no-balls from Asif and Aamer which could not have taken place without Butt’s complete involvement,” Jafferjee said.
Young Pakistan bowler Mohammad Aamer and Majeed have also been charged with the same offences but are not standing trial alongside Butt and Asif.