England’s Test match against Pakistan was embroiled in scandal last night after police arrested a man reported to be at the centre of a huge match-fixing ring. Play is due to resume at Lord’s today overshadowed by allegations that several members of the Pakistan team were involved in cheating during the game.
The News of the World alleged that two bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, delivered three deliberate no-balls against England on Thursday and Friday – in line with the predictions of an alleged middle man in London who met undercover reporters posing as members of a gambling cartel.
A police investigation is now under way and a Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: “We have today arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.”
Footage filmed by the newspaper apparently shows a man named as Mazhar Majeed taking £150,000 in cash during the meeting on Wednesday night, and predicting when the no-balls would come. Amir and Asif appear to have delivered no-balls at precisely the time Majeed is alleged to have predicted. Information such as the number of no-balls and the moments when they might take place would be of major value to betting syndicates.
After appearing to take a £10,000 deposit – which was said to have gone to players – Majeed was allegedly filmed counting a further £140,000. “I’m going to give you three no-balls to prove to you firstly that this is what’s happening,” he was reported to have said. The video footage then appears to show that Majeed identified Salman Butt, Pakistan’s captain, as the ringleader of the players involved, who included wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal. He apparently said seven cricketers were involved.
There is no suggestion that the results of the Test have been fixed or that any England players were aware of the alleged actions of their Pakistani counterparts. The England team are understood to know of the claims and were expecting play to go ahead today.
At the Pakistan team hotel in London last night, Asif said: “I have spoken to the management and they have told us something happened, but not what. The management will tell us more later. We are 100% focused on the match.”