Butt agreed to bat out maiden over, says prosecutor

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt agreed to score no runs in an over during a Test match against England last year as part of a 'spot-fixing' scam, a court in London heard yesterday. Prosecutors said Butt, 26, confirmed in a telephone call with his agent -- a conversation recorded by an undercover journalist � that he would bat out a maiden at the Oval last year.

Butt is on trial with fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, on charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling. They have both pleaded not guilty. Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee told Southwark Crown Court that Butt's agent Mazhar Majeed rang the journalist from the now-closed News of the World tabloid, after an earlier arrangement for no-balls to be bowled in exchange for 11,600 euros fell through. In what Jafferjee said was "potentially damning evidence concerning Butt directly", a plan emerged for Butt to bat out a maiden in the first full over he faced.

The following day Majeed met the journalist, then texted Butt four times to remind him to tap the middle of the pitch after the second ball he faced as a signal that he would bat out that over. Jafferjee said that that day, "as events transpired at The Oval, matters were somewhat out of Butt's control", as he had come in to bat earlier than expected, faced a new ball and had to take a single run.

The journalist had pressed Majeed on why the promise he had paid for had not materialised. Majeed explained and the reporter said he wanted a no-ball or something from Butt. "As events would prove, he got a bit of both -- no-balls from Asif and Aamer which could not have taken place without Butt's complete involvement," Jafferjee said. Mohammad Aamer and Majeed have also been charged but are not standing trial alongside Butt and Asif.

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