Cricket: Pakistanis wanted to lose to wreck Afridi - court

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Pakistan cricketers were ready to throw one-day internationals and Twenty20s in a bid to undermine then-captain Shahid Afridi and make "a hell of a lot of money" doing so, a London court heard on Tuesday.

Mazhar Majeed, an agent for several Pakistan players, told an undercover reporter last year that the players wanted Afridi replaced by then-Test captain Salman Butt -- and were prepared to throw matches to do it, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The court also heard how a shadowy Indian contact offered the agent $1 million (740,000 euros) if he got Pakistan cricketers to throw away a winning position in a Test match against England.

The jury in the trial of Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif saw video of meetings between Majeed and undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood.

The investigations editor for Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid was posing as a frontman for a Far East gambling syndicate.

Prosecutors allege Butt and Asif agreed for no-balls to be bowled as part of a spot-fixing betting scam.

The pair have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.

The jury saw covertly-filmed footage of a meeting between the agent and the reporter at a London hotel, at which Majeed took £140,000 from Mahmood and counted it out.

"A lot of the boys, they want to fuck up Afridi because he's trying to fuck up things for them," Majeed claimed.

"They all want Butt to be captain... They want to lose anyway.

"We're going to be making a hell of a lot of money in the Twenty20s and the one-days.

"Say for example Twenty20. I will tell you the bowlers, how many minimum runs they are going to concede, which is much more than usual. They are going to concede those runs.

"I'm going to tell you how many, say for the example, the two opening batsmen Salman and Kamran (Akmal) for example, you've only got 20 overs, they're going to waste two overs, three overs... The Twenty20s are the easiest."

The jury also saw footage of an earlier meeting in Majeed's London home, where the reporter recorded the agent on the telephone with an unidentified man in India, discussing deliberately throwing the England v Pakistan Test match at The Oval, which was under way at the time.

Majeed called his Indian contact and told him: "What offer can you give me for today's game? Tell me, just give me a figure now.

"There's a possibility, I'm just telling you that now, they're talking at least 1.2 (million) -- at least. In dollars."

The prosecution alleged that Majeed and the mystery contact were floating the possibility of Pakistan deliberately losing the game.

Referring to the Pakistan players under his wing, Majeed said: "Boss, you know how many I've got, you know that they do it. So of course that's not a problem. But you just give me the figure and I'm going to get back to you."

The Indian contact replied: "I give you one (million dollars). One I give you, but has to be a definite game score."

In the event, Pakistan beat England by four wickets.

The court heard a secretly-recorded phone call later that day, in which the agent told Mahmood his players were offering to spot-fix elements of matches for £150,000.

The agent said they could not understand why he was reluctant to hand over that amount on trust, especially when the usual fee was £250,000.

Majeed said: "What they're saying is if this guy gives 150 we'll give him two brackets (periods of play during which elements can be pre-arranged), whatever he wants, for the next game.

"They're not willing to give you anything until you give a large, substantial amount."

The court heard how Majeed had tried to impress the reporter by name-dropping, claiming links to Pakistan cricket stars Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan, England footballer Rio Ferdinand, and former Ireland and Arsenal footballer Liam Brady.

Meanwhile Alan Peacock, a senior International Cricket Council anti-corruption investigator, dismissed Majeed's recorded claims heard Monday that the Australians were the biggest spot-fixers in the business.

"We have no evidence that the Australians had committed 10 brackets a game; or any brackets," he told the court.

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

The case continues Wednesday.

© 2011 AFP

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