I was under extreme pressure, says Amir


Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who pleaded guilty to spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test against England in 2010, has said there was “extreme pressure” on him and cited threats to his place in the side if he did not participate in the fixing.
Amir gave his plea at the pre-trial at Southwark Crown Court on September 16, which had preceded the full trial attended by Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Reporting restrictions under the United Kingdom’s laws meant Amir’s plea could not be published so as not to bias a jury ruling on the other two players.
Amir’s basis of plea agreed by the prosecution was:
• The defendant’s involvement was limited to the final Test match at Lord’s between August 26 and 29, 2010.
• This was the defendant’s first and only involvement and was, therefore, an isolated and one-off event.
• The defendant only became involved as a result of pressure (not amounting to physical threats) and influence, to the effect that, if he did not become involved, he would suffer serious professional implications to his future career.
“Amir wants to make it clear he wants to take full responsibility for what he did by bowling two deliberate no-balls,” Amir’s barrister Ben Emmerson QC said at the pre-trial. “This vulnerable 18-year-old boy, as he was then, was subjected to extreme pressure from those upon whom he should have been able to rely. He recognises the damage he has caused Pakistan cricket and he wishes to do his best to put that right.”
Prosecution evidence, however, suggested that rather than being an innocent, naïve rookie who was taken advantage of, Amir seemed a willing conspirator, with text messages of fixing talk sent to two different Pakistan numbers that were recovered by police.
Of further significance was Amir’s basis of plea – he owned up only to fixing the two no-balls at Lord’s. This was questioned by the judge, Justice Cooke, because there was evidence to be presented by the prosecution that showed suspicious behaviour connected to other matches.
On August 17 Amir texted a Pakistani number with his bank details and asked why they were needed.
On the same day, Amir had a conversation by text with a Pakistani unknown. It went: “How much and what needs to be done?” Then: “This is going to be too much mate.” The Pakistani unknown said in one: “So in first three, bowl however you want, and in the last two, do eight runs?” These messages were translated from Urdu and were thought to be a repetition of instructions he had received at some point.