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'It takes £1mn to fix a Test'

A British sports agent representing two Pakistani cricketers accused of a betting scam told an undercover reporter that Tests could be thrown for £1 million, a court in London heard on Monday.

cricket Updated: Oct 10, 2011 23:29 IST
Test match,Rupert Murdoch,Salman Butt

A sports agent told an undercover reporter he could fix the results of cricket games using a stable of six Pakistani players, with a Test match costing £1 million to rig, a London court heard Monday.

The claim emerged as Mazher Mahmood, the former investigations editor for Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, gave evidence at the trial of ex-Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.

In video shown to Southwark Crown Court, the agent, Mazhar Majeed, was heard alleging that Australian players and some of the biggest names in Pakistani cricket history were prepared to fix parts of matches.

The video was secretly filmed inside a car as the agent and the reporter, who was posing as an Indian frontman for a Far East gambling syndicate, met on August 18 last year on the first day of Pakistan's Test against England at The Oval.

First Majeed said he would give the journalist proof of his influence by arranging for two no-balls to be bowled, for a fee of £10,000 each, then said a "deposit" of £150,000 was required for further activity.

He detailed how to arrange a "bracket", where bets are made on incidents during a given period of play.

"I will give you a bracket for the following day... In terms of a deposit it is going to be £150,000 minimum," the agent could be heard saying.

"That is going to be for me to pay my six boys a certain amount each. After that I can give you everything we do and every result we do, every bracket we do."

Majeed said he would pay the players to secure their cooperation. He added: "Once they give me authority I will give you part of everything we do."

He promised: "I have got the main players. I have got the bowlers and the batsmen and the all-rounders, I have got two-two-two and that is all you need.

"We have got one result already planned and that is in the next three matches, Pakistan will lose.

"Again you know as a cricket game it goes backwards and forwards, it is your responsibility to put it (a bet) on at the right time."

The agent said he would give the journalist the names of the players and inform him of "exactly what the players are going to do".

"They will do their job," he promised.

Ironically Majeed told the journalist: "I know you and I have met you and I'm very good with people and instincts. I believe you are genuine."

Prosecutors said at the opening of the trial that Butt and Asif had agreed to bowl no-balls as part of a spot-fixing scam.

Butt and Asif pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.

Earlier, the court heard a separate audio recording of a meeting between Mahmood and the agent earlier the same day in a restaurant.

Naming famous former Pakistan national cricketers, the agent said in the recording: "It's been happening for centuries. It's been happening for years. Wasim, Waqar, Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan -- they all did it."

Majeed went on to allege that Australian players would fix "brackets".

"The Australians, they are the biggest. They have 10 brackets a game," he said.

He said the cost to arrange a "bracket" could be between £50,000 and £80,000 ($78,000 and $125,000).

"For a result, Twenty20 is about £400,000 and Test matches, depending on the situation, is about £1 million," he added.

He said that he was dealing with a contact in India, adding: "Indian bookmakers, think of how many millions are bet on these games."

Pakistan players were paid "peanuts", he said, but there was "massive, massive money" in spot-fixing.

Mahmood gave evidence behind a screen after the judge imposed a ban on descriptions of his appearance because his security could be compromised.

Majeed and young Pakistan bowler Mohammad Aamer have also been charged with the same offences but are not standing trial alongside Butt and Asif.

First Published: Oct 10, 2011 23:25 IST