Butt says he ignored fixing requests


Former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt told a court in London on Monday that he had ignored requests by his agent to fix cricket matches against England. At his trial with fast bowler Mohammad Asif, Butt, 27, said he did not fulfil his duty to inform the cricketing authorities of an alleged corrupt approach by his British-based agent Mazhar Majeed. But he insisted that he had rejected the agent’s suggestions to deliberately lose wickets at last year’s Twenty20 World Cup and score no runs in an over in a Test against England last summer.
“Never in my whole life have I intended to do anything like that, play a match in a certain way. I always do what is required to the best of my ability,” he told Southwark Crown Court. Butt said that the agent rang him late at night on the eve of the final day of the Oval Test in August 2010, in a conversation that was recorded by an undercover journalist for the now-defunct News of the World newspaper.
The cricketer said Majeed had asked him, referring to a maiden over in which no runs are scored: “You know the maiden that we’re doing for the first over? You know the third over you face, do one more maiden”. Butt said he replied to Majeed: “Bro, just leave it, OK.” He told the court: “I intended to say, ‘that’s enough, I’ve heard enough of that conversation’.” When the agent again allegedly called Butt the following morning making a similar request the cricketer replied using the Urdu and Punjabi term “theek hai”, meaning “OK”. Butt told the jury this meant he was trying to end the conversation quickly. “I was trying to get rid of the conversation, not to offend anyone… I was absolutely not interested in what he was talking about,” he said. Butt and Asif have both pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.
He said the former agent and friend “grossly abused” his trust. However, Ali Bajwa, defending the cricketer, said: “We say Salman Butt only finds himself here on trial accused of these charges because of the words of his former friend and agent, Mazhar Majeed. Bajwa said Butt told police in interview that the fact that the no-balls were bowled exactly when Majeed said they would be was a “freakish coincidence,” the Press Association reported.
He told the court: “That is not, and has never been, part of Mr Butt’s defence.” Bajwa told the jury: “I anticipate that everyone in this case will agree that there was at the very least a criminal conspiracy between Mazhar Majeed and Mohammad Amir… “It is Salman Butt’s case that he did not know of the existence of a conspiracy to bowl no-balls at Lord’s and he would never have allowed himself to become party to it.”
Explaining why police found nine mobile phone Sim cards in his hotel room after the scandal broke, Butt said it was cheaper to buy local phone cards when he was on tour overseas. The cricketer also said he brought about $12,000 in cash with him to England last year with the aim of buying a special edition-watch costing around 8,000 pounds. Salman Butt told he confronted Mazhar Majeed about text messages he had sent him to fix elements of a Twenty20 match against South Africa at the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup.
“He would say before a game ‘give me something’,” Butt told the court. “I didn’t like it and I felt bad about it. We are not what you are thinking of us. We don’t lose intentionally. But it didn’t make any difference to him.” For the match against South Africa, Majeed texted Butt asking, “in seventh and eighth over, one fall (wicket) in each, this will only work if you score in the first two overs and no wickets”. Kamran Akmal opened the batting with Butt. The message was recovered from police on behalf of the prosecution. Butt added, on when Majeed would raise such topics: “I would get rid of the conversations in my own language and say ‘thik he’.” At this stage Butt utilised the services of the female interpreter standing by his side for the first time. She explained that what he was saying meant ‘Okay, let’s move on’. Despite Butt’s intentions to deter Majeed’s messages, they didn’t stop. His lawyer, Ali Bajwa QC, asked him to explain messages found on Majeed’s phone that were sent to him. One such message read: “Give us one in the seventh and one in the eighth.” Bajwa asked Butt if he remembered receiving the messages at that time. He said “Well it is my phone so I must have read them”. But when Bajwa asked him if he knew what the message meant, he responded “No”.
In the event, on that May 10 game, Butt was dismissed second ball trying to pull Dale Steyn. Bajwa asked Butt if he was captain at that time so to determine to the jury whether he had any influence on events in the match and Butt said, “No”. The court had already heard from written evidence given by the Pakistan team’s then security manager, Major Khwaja Najam Javed, that Majeed was in the Caribbean at the time for the tournament with his family.
Butt then explained that he confronted Majeed on the day of this match and he told him: “We are not like these messages you are sending me. You must understand that I must report these things if they come up. He said I am your friend and I have known you many years and I am just checking if you are doing something dodgy or not. “I took his word for this explanation. He said he was trying to test me with something non-serious. I took his word for that. In four years there was nothing like this – something very serious. Anyone in my place would have had suspicions about it. I did not expect this thing to come up. I had known him many years and he had never done this thing before.”