The captain knows: Asif


Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif highlighted the involvement of his former skipper Salman Butt while in the witness stand during day 13 of the alleged spot-fixing trial by telling a London court “the captain knows”. Asif, 28, was under cross-examination from chief prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC when he raised the role of Butt. It was in reference to the questionable no-ball that Asif bowled in the Lord’s Test last year, which was delivered on the sixth ball of the tenth over that had been previously predicted by agent Mazhar Majeed when secretly recorded by an undercover journalist.
Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments following the Lord’s Test when they allegedly conspired with agent Majeed, teenager Mohammad Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-planned no-balls. Butt and Asif, who left the witness stand at 3:30 pm, deny the charges.
The inference from Asif, wearing a grey-coloured suit with a shirt and tie, was that a fix involving the tenth over could not be made if the captain was not party to it. Asif denied any knowledge of the alleged fix, inferring that the captain had to be involved to keep him bowling.
Asif, speaking in reference to the secretly-filmed handover of £140,000 by undercover journalist Mazhar Mahmood to Majeed before Majeed listed the no-ball detail, said: “The captain knows. What I have told you the last two days…the captain knows. He is the one who brings them (bowlers) on. So what is he (Majeed) saying?” Jafferjee took stock of what Asif had said, removed his glasses, paused and returned to Asif by saying that he felt they had both reached the same conclusion – which was that Butt was central to the fix. “You’re telling me it’s down to Butt aren’t you?” Asif, though, stopped short of actually agreeing by saying, “You can see the CD what he (Majeed) is saying.”
Asif was much more argumentative and passionate in his exchanges with Jafferjee than on his first day in the witness stand. At one stage, when discussing the telephone traffic evidence in a printed transcript that has colour-coded all involved parties, Asif asked Jafferjee: “Who’s the yellow number?” To which Jafferjee replied, “I wish we knew, Mr Asif.” Asif came back: “You’re trying to ruin my life and you can’t tell me who yellow is?”
“If anyone is trying to destroy your life, Mr Asif, it’s you,” Jaffejee said. The prosecutor also asked Asif why, if he was not involved in the fix, Majeed called him 59 seconds after leaving the Copthorne Tara Hotel at 23.18, with a briefcase with £140,000 in cash on the night before the Lord’s Test. “Was he calling you about a sponsorship deal or to arrange dinner, Mr Asif?” Jafferjee said sarcastically. “You think he’s calling me to do the fix?” Asif replied. “He’s already done the fix,” Jafferjee said. “Now he wants you to know about it.” Jafferjee added: “Why is this man, who you say is not your agent, whom you have only met three times in person since May 2010, why is he calling you now?” Asif responded by saying that if they were talking about fixing why was the call only 16 seconds long. “If we were talking about something as big as this do you think we would only need 16 seconds,” Asif said. Shortly after that, Butt rang Asif, a call spanning 14 seconds. Asif repeatedly denied being part of the fix and suggested that Majeed had two phones, one of them secret and that he never called him on that secret phone like he did other people who are implicated. Asif also questioned why the undercover journalist never managed to have Asif on record like he did Butt and Amir “with all his equipment and money”.
In closing his defence Asif’s lawyer Alexander Milne QC clarified that Asif would have accrued approximately £6,000 in daily expense allowances – paid in cash – by the time of Lord’s Test and that he brought £2,700 with him from Pakistan to justify why he had just over £8,000 found in his London hotel room during a police search.
Asif reasoned that he didn’t spend much of his allowance because he dined with friends mostly and that he was planning to do some shopping at the end of the tour towards his wedding on September 30. No News of the World marked money was found on Asif but Jafferjee said that was only through luck. “You did not receive News of the World cash because you were out at a restaurant. That’s why only two received the cash and you didn’t,” he said. “Well, why could Majeed not have left it with Amir or the Butt,” came Asif’s response. On Monday morning, Jafferjee will give a closing speech for the prosecution, before the lawyers for the defendants present theirs to the jury, prior to Justice Cooke’s summing up.