ICC anti-corruption unit set to investigate more matches
ON (Agencies) - The ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) is set to launch its own investigation of Pakistan's tour of England in 2010 after the criminal trial into spot-fixing in London exposed more allegedly tainted matches. More players are set to come under scrutiny.
Recovered text messages exposed during the trial at Southwark Crown Court revealed four more Tests appear to have been affected by spot-fixing on the tour - not just the one at Lord's.
The ACSU has not been able to conduct much of an inquiry since the case brought against Salman Butt, M Asif and M Aamir meant that most or all of the evidence was held by the crown and police. Once the trial is over, however, there will be a debriefing between British prosecution services and the ACSU on what can and cannot be disclosed to use in future cricket investigations.
The latest evidence is likely to be of interest to the ACSU as they were not granted access to it while the criminal case was on-going. Evidence relating to the first Test against England at Trent Bridge, the second at Edgbaston and the third at The Oval was heard during the trial, though not in front of the jury, as all parties agreed it may impact on a fair trial for Butt and Asif. Evidence was also linked to the Lord's Test between Pakistan and Australia.
The text traffic recovered by Canadian police specialists from agent Mazhar Majeed's mobile phone connected Pakistan players such as Kamran Akmal and Aamir to alleged spot-fixing and links with bookmakers, as well as suspicious conduct at the very least.
On July 12, the eve of the Lord's Test between Pakistan and Australia, Majeed received a text from a UK number thought to belong to an underground bookmaker which read: "Bro, just spoke to Sanjay. Bowling first, they should bowl in tandem first for at least first eight overs. Give away a minimum of 47 runs, in first 10 overs please." Shahid Afridi was the Pakistan captain for that Lord's Test, not Butt, but there is no inference that Afridi was involved in any wrongdoing.
On July 17, when Butt was given the captaincy after the resignation of Afridi, a text from a number belonging to a suspected Indian bookmaker read: "Congratulations on captaincy of Salman Butt" There is no evidence surrounding the second Test against Australia at Headingley, Butt's first as captain, which Pakistan won.
On July 28, the eve of the first Test between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge, the same Indian number, code-named 'Raj', texted Majeed: "Got any idea of the wicket, looks like enough grass left?"
On July 29, the first day of the Nottingham Test, Majeed messaged 'Raj' saying: "It is hard to do this but they will try. Two edges gave away 8 in first over today so not always in their hands. They will make sure they try though." He followed that up with: "If they do it they will want to be paid."
On July 30, day two of the Trent Bridge Test, Majeed texted a UK number suspected to be one of his bookmaker contacts. He said: "Boss, you can see they have done it." And later he said to the same contact: "Kamran's one will still be on if another wicket".
On the same day 'Raj' messaged Majeed: "I'm very shocked and speechless about what the boys have done today. I am not able to understand what they in store. At this rate they will ruin our lives. Despite my request - one run in last ball of 100th over - nothing happened." Majeed replied: "I cannot explain boss. I'll find out tonight." On August 5, the day before the second Test at Edgbaston, Majeed was in touch with an unknown Dubai number, again suspected to be an illegal bookmaker: "Are you ready to speak in 20 mins? Maz"
Then on the same day, the UK bookie messaged Majeed with: "Is your Pakistan man ready for a small one tomorrow?" On August 6, the first day of the second Test, at Edgbaston, there were several calls and texts from Majeed to an Indian number and also to a Dubai number. At 6pm, he texted 'Raj': "Is market on tomorrow, shall I prepare anything tomorrow?" The reply came back: "Not tomorrow bro, position is not right." On August 7, day two at Edgbaston, Majeed texted 'Raj': "Bro, now Butt is out, anything we do is far too risky, let's see the position on Day 4." On August 17, the day before the Oval Test, Aamir texted a number thought to belong to a Pakistani bookmaker at quarter past midnight: "Sending him bank details and asking why someone needed them at that time."
Aamir then sent two texts to another number in Pakistan saying: "How much and what needs to be done?" Adding, "This is going to be too much." The Pakistan contact replied to Aamir: "So in the first 3, bowl however you want, and the last 2, do 8 runs?"
On the same day before the third Test, 'Raj' texted Majeed: "Umar Akmal playing?" And Majeed instantly replied: "Yes. Malik not playing".
After midnight on August 18, the first day of the Oval Test, there were numerous texts and calls between 'Raj' and Majeed, plus calls between Majeed and Butt, according to the prosecution at the trial.
Butt's defence was that he would often discuss equipment with his agent Majeed or talk about dinner plans. Butt's legal team also produced a witness statement from a shop assistant at The Oval to say Butt did go to the shop at the ground to buy two pairs of trousers because he was not happy at how Majeed had not arranged for new trousers with Adidas.
After an eight and a seven-minute call between 'Raj' and Majeed, 'Raj' messaged back: "Kami (Kamran Akmal) and Aamir (Aamir) minimum 13 off first 3 overs after Kami gives an indication by change of gloves with no wkt. It starts from round of overs, say 35 or 40, whichever is first after they come in together. Next 7 overs, maximum 15 runs."