Cricket was mired in a betting scandal once again on Sunday after a British tabloid carried out a sting that allegedly showed two of Pakistan's finest fast bowlers deliberately bowling no-balls against English batsmen in return for cash.
Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, who have tormented the English team with their torrid pace and swing bowling through the summer, delivered three no-balls on Thursday and Friday at the precise moment when an alleged middle man said they would, News of the World reported.
The newspaper paid Mazhar Majeed, the alleged Pakistani-origin middleman who has now been arrested, a sum of £150,000 (R 1.05 crore) in used notes and filmed him counting the money before making his accurate predictions.The 35-year-old Surrey property developer is reported to have named seven Pakistani players as being involved in the betting scandal, including captain Salman Butt as the ringleader and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.
“I’m going to give you three no-balls to prove to you firstly that this is what’s happening. They’ve all been organised, okay?” he told reporters posing as frontmen for a Far Eastern gambling syndicate on Wednesday.
Over the next two days, Asif and Amir delivered the no-balls exactly as predicted, the otherwise-flawless quickies overstepping by such huge margins that commentators were surprised.
“I have been doing it with them, the team, for about two and a half years. And we’ve made masses and masses of money,”
Majeed said before taking the reporters out for dinner with Butt and teammates Umar Amin and Wahab Riaz. Among other revelations, Majeed declared he was in touch with a bookie in India. “I deal with an Indian party,” he was quoted by the tabloid. “They pay me for information.”On Saturday night, British police questioned several Pakistani players and the team manager at the hotel the team was staying in. The mobile phones of Asif, Amir and Butt were confiscated.
Skipper Salman Butt, asked if he would resign, replied: “Why? We won a Test against England after 15 years.” He later denied any wrong-doing.
Former Indian wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer told HT he was “shocked, disgusted and disappointed”. “Young Amir had made such a terrific impression. Strict action has to be taken but, unfortunately, the ICC is a feeble and toothless body,” he said.
The ICC in a statement confirmed it had been informed by the London Metropolitan Police of the arrest of Majeed.
“We are full assisting the enquiries,” it said. “No players or team officials have been arrested in relation to this incident.”