Posts Tagged ‘ Mohammad Asif ’

Pakistan Cricketer Mohammad Asif Freed After Fixing Scam Sentence

As Reported by The BBC

Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif, one of three jailed for a fixing scam, has been released after serving half of a 12-month sentence, his lawyer says.

Asif, 29, the former world number two Test bowler, was freed from Canterbury Prison in Kent on Thursday morning.

In November, Asif and team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir were jailed for a plot to bowl deliberate no balls in a Test match against England in 2010.

All three players were also given five-year playing bans.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it did not comment on individuals.

“Foreign national offenders released from prison on licence will be supervised by probation for as long as they remain in this country,” he said.

Undercover reporter
The fixing scandal came to light when an undercover News of the World reporter approached sports agent Mazhar Majeed, who was also jailed for his role, pretending to be a wealthy Indian businessman seeking players for a tournament.

Majeed promised him that Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific points during the Test between Pakistan and England at Lord’s on 26-29 August 2010, and claimed to have been fixing games for over two years, with seven Pakistan players working for him.

At Southwark Crown Court in November, ex-Test captain Salman Butt, 27, was jailed for two-and-a-half years for his role as the “orchestrator” of the plot.

Explaining why he had bowled a no-ball when Majeed said he would, Asif alleged that Butt had told him to “run faster” moments before his delivery.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Cooke, said there was no evidence that Asif had taken part in fixing before the Lord’s match but added: “It is hard to see how this could be an isolated occurrence for you.”

Asif took his 100th Test wicket during Pakistan’s 2010 series in England.

He had run into controversy before. He twice tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug nandrolone and was held in Dubai for 19 days in 2008 after opium was found in his wallet.

Mohammad Amir was released from jail in February.


Players Get Prison Terms in Fixing Case

By John F Burns for The New York Times

The judge in London’s monthlong cricket corruption trial imposed prison sentences Thursday on the four men involved, including a 30-month jail term for Salman Butt, the captain of Pakistan’s national team.

The longest term, 32 months, went to Mazhar Majeed, the agent for the three players sentenced. Butt’s teammate Mohammad Asif drew a one-year sentence, and another teammate, Mohammad Amir, received six months. Amir, 19, is to serve his time in a institution for young offenders.

The judge, Jeremy Cooke, who admonished the men for “the insidious effect of your actions on the international game,” said that if they behaved they would be released under supervision halfway through their sentences. He ordered the players to pay compensation toward the cost of their prosecution, with the highest sum, about $49,600, imposed on Butt.

The scene in Southwark Crown Court, close to the Thames in South London, was tense. Butt, 27, and Asif, 28, appeared stunned as the judge read out the sentences. Afterward, security guards led the men to their cells. The lawyer for Amir said his client planned to appeal.

The trial, which rocked the cricket world, centered on a sting operation conducted by the now-defunct News of the World newspaper during Pakistan’s tour of England in summer 2010. It followed years of suspicions that powerful gambling syndicates based on the Indian subcontinent were bribing players to fix parts of high-profile matches, or even to throw them entirely.

The case hinged on a secretly recorded meeting at a London hotel at which Majeed took £150,000 in marked notes, or about $240,000, from a reporter posing as an agent for the syndicates. The three players were found guilty of a scam that involved bowling three so-called no balls — foul deliveries — at predetermined points in a test match between Pakistan and England at Lord’s, the London ground that is the spiritual home of cricket.

Majeed also boasted at the meeting that he could fix matches involving Pakistan outright in return for about $1.6 million.

Much of the concern has focused on Pakistan’s national team, but a special corruption unit of the International Cricket Council, the Dubai-based governing body of the world game, has been investigating the possibility that other teams have been involved in similar scandals.

Cricket experts have said corruption has the capacity to destroy the game unless policing is expanded, perhaps to the extent of posting officials from the unit, which includes former police officers, at all top international matches.

Amir, 18 at the time of the match, entered a guilty plea to the corruption charges early in the trial, a fact that was sealed on Cooke’s orders until the trial’s resolution. At sentencing, Cooke, addressing Amir through an Urdu interpreter, said that in determining his punishment he had taken into account Amir’s age, his vulnerability to pressure from the older players and his plea. “It took courage,” he said, to plead guilty, according to a BBC account. “You come from a village background where life is hard.”

Earlier this year, the players were barred from all forms of cricket for five years by the International Cricket Council, which had conducted its own inquiry. Cooke said he took that into account in passing sentence, but some powerful figures in the game have said publicly that the punishment, especially in Butt’s case, should be reviewed in light of the evidence at the trial and extended to expulsion for life.

Cooke scolded Butt at the hearing, saying he deserved the heaviest sentence of the three players because the evidence showed that he was “the orchestrator of this thing.” Cooke also said Butt had done “a terrible thing” in corrupting Amir, who was regarded by many as a natural successor to the legendary fast bowlers in Pakistan’s past.

In 1992, Pakistan won the sport’s World Cup, and it has continued to be an international power. For many of the nation’s 170 million people, cricket has been a source of pride in a society plagued by a history of military coups and political corruption. Pakistan has also been accused by the United States of conniving with the Taliban in mounting suicide bombings.

Inevitably, cricket fans will compare the penalties imposed on Butt with the fate of Hanse Cronje, the former South African captain who until now had been the most prominent player caught in a corruption scandal.

In 2001, after a lengthy inquiry in South Africa into match-fixing between South Africa and India, Cronje was barred from the sport for life. He died the next year, at 32, in a plane crash in Johannesburg. Two other South African players were suspended for six months but later resumed their international careers.

Pakistan plan to spread the grief

As reported by Agence France-Presse

Pakistan are still reeling from the cricket corruption scandal that has dogged the side since last summer, but Shoaib Akhtar has warned that he and his teammates plan to take out their frustrations over the affair on their World Cup opponents.

Salman Butt, Pakistan’s then Test captain, and the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month, after being found guilty of spot-fixing, which depleted Pakistan’s bowling options just two weeks before the start of the World Cup.

But Akhtar said the loss of the trio has helped unite the squad and galvanised them to push for a second World Cup victory to replicate their 1992 success.

“We are a hurt side so we are here to hurt others,” Akhtar said yesterday. “It’s better that it happened to us because every time a controversy happens it gathers us together and what better situation than before a World Cup?”

Pakistan beat co-hosts Sri Lanka by 11 runs in their last match after seeing off Kenya by 205 runs in their opening game.

Akhtar, 35, admitted he was missing Aamer and Asif but said others have stepped up.

“Obviously without Aamer and Asif we have suffered badly, they were the best with the new ball, it’s unfortunate what happened to them. Had they been with us it would have been the most lethal bowling attack,” he said.

“But the way [Umar] Gul and [Abdul] Razzaq have been bowling, the way [Wahab] Riaz is bowling, we can still do a much better job as we have variety in our attack.”

Akhtar, who has taken 246 wickets in 162 one-day internationals, said he had changed his bowling style to maintain his fitness, concentrating on accuracy rather than the pure pace that in the past regularly saw him bowl in excess of 100mph.

“I left this race of bowling at 100mph a long time ago,” he said. “I am nearing 36 now and am more mature, so I am focusing more on getting wickets now than bowling fast. But I crossed 98mph the other day.”

He said he is enjoying the chance to perform on the world stage after injury and discipline problems left him sidelined four years ago.

But he warned his teammates – who next face Canada in Colombo on Thursday – not to be over confident after beating Sri Lanka. “We have to move on and we shouldn’t get complacent,” he said.

What if Zulqarnain Haider Was Right About Corruption in Pakistan?

By Paul Hayward for The Guardian

The curse of the whistleblower is to be denounced as a fraud, a fantasist or a weirdo. In America, where they have an organisation for everything, the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington helps people wanting to expose iniquity, much like our own Public Concern at Work. Either may hear soon from a 24-year-old Pakistani wicketkeeper.

Let’s imagine this as a short movie, a study in motivation. Zulqarnain Haider approaches passport control at Heathrow one day and asks for sanctuary. Behind him he has left a wife and two daughters in Pakistan and the national team in Dubai, who learn of his disappearance when they find his hotel room empty.

The immediate cause of Haider’s flight is a conversation he says he had near the team hotel. An unknown man approaches him to say: “If you work with us, we will give you a lot of money. If not, we will not select you again in cricket and, if you go back home, we will kill you and your family.”

Notice the “we” in “we will not select you again in cricket”. One largely ignored facet of this drama is that if Haider’s interlocutor existed he boasted of his power to pick the Pakistan XI. All three layers are present: potential reward, intermediary punishment, and death, not just for him but his family. If Haider is for real, the offer he was made and the warning he was given imply a connection between match- and spot-fixing, team selection and serious organised crime.

In other words they suggest corruption runs through many tiers of Pakistan cricket. In a recent editorial, the country’s Daily Times speculated: “The elephant in the room is the link between people wielding power and the bookmakers. It is alleged that a top bookmaker and mafia don have connections with a powerful intelligence agency in Pakistan.”

This is as far as conjecture can be pushed in the strange tale of Haider’s dash to Britain, which featured a chaotic press conference in the backroom of a curry house in Southall. To summarise, he claims he was approached before the fourth one-day international against South Africa, in which he hit 19 winning runs, and then fled before the fifth, the second target for the alleged match-fixers.

Here in England he has said players’ phones should be tapped to assist evidence gathering and that “a lot of people” are involved in the scam. He has said, too, that he does not want any aid from the British government beyond temporary asylum and has promised to co-operate with the International Cricket Council’s Anti‑Corruption and Security Unit.

To gain a sense of Haider’s motivation it is tempting to imagine him on that flight to London, knowing what was ahead of him and what lay behind: most poignantly, grave danger for his wife and daughters. No conclusion can be drawn from such a filmic and intuitive form of analysis, but most of us would think something fairly big must have spooked him in Dubai to cause him to run away from his family and his livelihood.

We would suspect also that a professional cricketer had to break in the end, and that Haider simply looks like the first to buckle. Heroic status eludes him, so far. No senior Pakistan cricketer, either serving or retired, has praised his actions. Some asked why he waited at least four days after the threat to his life to board a flight to London.

Denunciations fly in from those who say he ought to have “reported his concerns” to the Pakistan team management and the ICC’s detectives, which protocol required him to do.

And from Pakistan’s sports minister, Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani, came the most brutal condemnation: “If he is such a weak and scared person he should not have played cricket in the first place, particularly not for the national team.” Asif Iqbal weighed in: “He has let the motherland down. There wasn’t even a reserve wicketkeeper to replace him. He just flew off.”

This censorious tone obscures the dark realities of the past year. The current cycle of trouble began with the dubious tour of Australia, with its suspicious Sydney Test and nine straight defeats for Pakistan in all formats. After the News of the World’s spot-fixing exposé, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt are under an ICC provisional suspension and have had their central contracts cancelled by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

As pressure builds in India, the hub of cricket betting, to legalise and therefore regulate the wild east of gambling on the country’s national sport, you wonder why more punters are not put off by all the evidence suggesting choreography on the field of play. It’s an odd kink of human nature that people will go on betting in an apparently bent casino, as if to beat a crooked system confers more pleasure than winning against an honest house.

At the centre of this vast global issue is one man who stepped off a flight in London and told the BBC on Friday: “I want to be a good citizen.”

Police Question Pakistan Cricket Team Over Newspaper’s Matchfixing Allegations

By Richard Sydenham for The Canadian Press

Police have questioned Pakistan’s cricket team over newspaper allegations of matchfixing during the current Test match against England at Lord’s, the team’s manager said on Saturday.

“I can confirm that we are aware of the allegations and Scotland Yard police are with us now at the hotel and we are helping with their inquiries,” team manager Yawar Saeed told The Associated Press. “This is as much as I can say at the moment.

” British newspaper the News of the World alleged in its Sunday edition that Pakistan players were secretly paid to deliberately bowl no-balls during the fourth and final Test against England as part of a betting scam.

The newspaper says it has secretly-filmed video footage of its undercover reporters, posing as front men for a Far East gambling cartel, in discussion with a man who appears to accept 150,000 pounds (C$244,000) in order to make sure no-balls are bowled at certain times during the match.

The News of the World says it has passed all its evidence to the police. Scotland Yard police said in a statement: “Following information received from the News of the World, we have today arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

” The International Cricket Council said it was aware of the situation and it, along with the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board, was “fully assisting” police with their inquiries.

“No players nor team officials have been arrested in relation to this incident and the fourth npower Test match will continue as scheduled on Sunday,” said the ICC’s statement. “As this is now subject to a police investigation neither ICC, ECB, PCB nor the ground authority, the MCC, will make any further comment.”

Any player found guilty of involvement in matchfixing faces a life ban from the sport. Pakistan needs to win the final Test against England at Lord’s to salvage a draw in the four-match series, but it faces an uphill task after scoring just 74 in reply to England’s first innings total of 446.

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