ICC dismisses Majeed's claim of Australian involvement in match fixing

ICC official Alan Peacocktold London court that the governing body found no evidence that the Australians had committed 10 brackets a game as alleged by sports agent Mazhar Majeed (in the picture) AFP

London: Oct 12, 2011

A senior International Cricket Council anti-corruption investigator has dismissed a claim of Australian player involvement in spot-fixing.

The investigator, Alan Peacock, appeared in a London court a day after the claim was aired there in a covert tape recording of sports agent Mazhar Majeed taken by an undercover journalist.

Majeed said on the tape that Australian players would fix “brackets”, a set period of a match on which to bet.

“The Australians, they are the biggest. They have 10 brackets a game,” the sports agent said.

Peacock told the court on Tuesday: “We have no evidence that the Australians had committed 10 brackets a game – or any brackets.”

The claim surfaced on Monday at the spot-fixing trial of ex-Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.

It prompted an angry reaction from Cricket Australia, with chief executive James Sutherland calling it “baseless” and “outlandish” and expressing concern that Australian players had been unfairly maligned.

A Cricket Australia spokesman described Majeed as “a person of very dubious repute”.

In Cape Town with the Australian Twenty20 squad, vice captain Shane Watson described the claims as “shocking” and said it was “unbelievably disappointing” that players’ reputations were being brought into question.

Meanwhile, the court heard more of Majeed’s taped allegations on Tuesday.

Among them was the claim that 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.

Majeed, an agent for several Pakistan players, told News of the World undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood last year that the players wanted Afridi replaced by then-Test captain Salman Butt – and were prepared to throw matches to do it.

The court also heard how a shadowy Indian contact offered the agent $US1 million if he could get Pakistan cricketers to throw away a winning position in a Test match against England.

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 $US140,000 from Mahmood and counted it out.

“A lot of the boys, they want to f*** up Afridi because he’s trying to f*** 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.”

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 underway at the time.

The court heard how Majeed had tried to impress the undercover 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.

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 on Wednesday. (AFP)